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The Sin of the Prophet 


the Prophet 




Little, Brown and Company • Boston 
19 5 2 







Published simultaneously 
in Canada by McClelland and Stewart Limited 


To the memory of a friend to man 
F. O. Matthiessen 

A very few, as heroes, patriots, martyrs, reform- 
ers in the great sense, and men, serve the state 
with their consciences also, and so necessarily 
resist it for the most part; and they are com- 
monly treated as enemies by it. 



This book should be read as fiction. That the 
names are great ones and well remembered is 
only incidental. The event is told as it happened, 
the chronology used is fairly exact because it 
makes a better story that way. And yet these 
men cannot be falsely exploited; the writer owes 
them a measure of truth and chose this complex 
form because he feels he has, as Emerson said, 
knowledge that cannot be abstractly imparted, 
which needs the combinations and complexities 
of social action to point it out . . . by indi- 
rection as well as in the didactic way and can 
thereby express the fluxional qualities and values 
which the thesis or dissertation can never give. 

— T.N. 


The Event 



First the event. It came on like the spring tide which slowly and mas- 
sively invades the neglected heights of the beachhead and then throws 
from its cold arsenal writhing, frothing lines of assault mounting in power 
until the big wave rears up and falls with a crash and then runs with 
white-tipped fingers and tongues to pluck and suck blocks of granite from 
sea walls and strew them in its deep. And then tosses on its coronated 
peaks boats and buildings torn away and engulfs people and draws their 
rescuers in and sweeps them beyond grasping or smothers them into liquid 
graves or leaves them crushed and exhausted on the evacuated sand. 

Think in black and white. Fill and hollow the space of this time with 
monochrome and strong chiaroscuro but not with the deep incising of a 
needle. This is a time unfixed, nervous and baroque. And it was clear and 
then unclear as only black and white can be in the manipulation of 
shadows and sudden light without the surface tenderness and evocations 
of color. Fix it with a greasy crayon on limestone and follow the line and 
do not let it stop. 

Not this in easy symbolism. The wave was a black wave on a white 
beach at night. The red bricks of the old revolutionary buildings in Boston 
where it mostly happened had faded into dusty pink and were dwarfed 
and shrunken by new cubes of granite setting forth the temples of law, 
money and religion. The shadows lay black and cold between them where 
the sunny green grass and gardens had been and the rich mud of the 
streets was bubbled with gray cobblestones. 

The men wore black in winter and white in summer. Even the young 
and rebellious dared only a gray or an indecisive tweed. It was an age of 
black and white. Things happened too fast to touch it and tint it and 
make it mellow or bright. 

. . . Like the two men who met in a top-floor study that was the heart 
of the biggest private library in Boston. One was black. The other was 

white. The black man was a waiter from the Revere House, the city's best 
hotel. He had run all the way to this house on Exeter Place that morning, 
still in his white coat and apron. 

The white man wore a black coat as his only concession to the ortho- 
dox, who had made him a pariah in his chosen profession. He was a 
preacher. His name was Theodore Parker. His age was forty-three. He 
looked sixty. His head was bald and his beard was gray. But he was a 
powerful man and could bend the energy of a massive chest and big shoul- 
ders, the heritage of farmer stock, to a stint of twelve or thirteen hours of 
reading and studying a day. 

The Negro's name is unimportant. It was never given, never asked. He 
had only begun to count the waves, the smaller ones before the ninth or 
tenth that our elders say is the big one. Everybody else knew it was com- 
ing too, but they turned their backs and built granite walls to keep it out. 

He told Parker he had served two slave hunters at breakfast. He had 
found in devious and forbidden ways, for the owner of the hotel was a 
Northern man with Southern principles, that their names were Colonel 
Charles Suttle and William Brent and that they were from Falmouth in 
Virginia. The Colonel was impressive with a sweeping mustache and a 
billy-goat beard. His companion was small, neat, and clean-shaven and 
appeared to be, to use an old-fashioned word since unsurpassed for its 
accuracy, a toady. 

Parker took the news without skepticism, remarking only that it would 
have been better if the waiter had known whom they were looking for as 
now he had a great number of fugitives to warn. The waiter said he would 
do his best on this score and left. 

After he had gone, Parker sat thinking for a few minutes and then 
pulled over an unfinished letter to the Honorable Senator Seward of New 
York. He scratched in an end part with his almost indecipherable hand- 

Now this must not be. The nation must arouse itself. I have been 
waiting for a long time for some event to occur which would blow 
so loud a horn that it should waken the north, startling the farmer 
at his plow and the mechanic in his shop. I believe this time is com- 
ing so I want to have a convention of all the free states in Buffalo, 
the Fourth of July next, to consider the state of the Union and to 
take measures; One: to check. Two: to terminate the enslavement 
of men in America. I wish you would advise me in this matter for 
I confess I look to you with a great deal of confidence in these times 
of peril to freedom. 

Then he opened his journal and scribbled a date on the page. 

May 22, 1854. We must have a dreadful chastisement one day. 
I suppose it will come from our own towns, from civil war. 

He closed it and laid it aside and began to cut the pages of a new book 
with a heavy knife. As the blade slid through and feathered the edges of 
the paper, he felt a chill of sadness and thought of the plumes of the hearse 
horses and the final cut of life revealing the last page and the blankness 
of the end. He opened his journal again and wrote: 

Today is the anniversary of the death of my dearest sister Emily. 
All of my father's children, save my brother, nearly sixty, and myself, 
are dead. They all had the critical period of their lives from forty- 
three to forty-nine. Five of them died about that age. Only one sur- 
passed it. Now I am in that critical period. If I survive the next five 
years I shall go on to eighty like my father. I have much work to do. 
I must get around the Cape. 

One mechanic had left his lathe in the Mattapan Iron Works that very 
day because of man's injustice to his kind. He was a straw-colored man of 
twenty-six with sandy cheeks cut up and down with wrinkles and muscles 
like ropes around his mouth from talking. His eyes were almost colorless 
and his lashes white. He walked with his head resting on the back of his 
spine and his long neck, bisected with an enormous Adam's apple, curved 
from jawbone to clavicle like a bow bent to the breaking point with a raw- 
hide string. 

He was very neat and trim, slim of waist and shoulders. He had a minc- 
ing, toed-out step and was dressed in a hand-me-down broadcloth coat 
slightly too large for him. It needed pressing. 

His name was Nick Queeny and he had been of great service to the 
Democrats in the election past. He had written a few articles in a delib- 
erately misspelled from-me-to-you style for the local party press, saying the 
small untrue and scurrilous things about the opposing candidates that no- 
body of importance could, and would have to disown if he did. 

Now he was going to claim his reward, or rather demand it because he 
hadn't heard a word from the local satraps since they had swept trium- 
phantly into power. He had brooded stormily at his lathe since he read of 
Mr. Hawthorne's appointment to a fat job in Liverpool and felt that he, 
proportionately rated against Hawthorne's campaign biography of Presi- 
dent Pierce, should at least get a job in the Custom House. 

He decided to drop into a sailor's slopshop on Brattle Street and have 
his coat ironed. He knew it well. 

When he had been a nipper living around the Shipyards he had gone 
there many times to beg a delivery job and soak up a little heat. He had 
had his first romance there with a seamstress, a shy sickly girl forever 
struggling with the dirty clothes of the sailors, squirming away from their 
heavy hands and blushing as they stripped down to hairy legs and threw 
their trousers at her to mend. 

He hoped she was still there and he could tell her about his success and 
let her see his clean hands and impressive coat. 

He went in and was shocked to be greeted by an old Negro who was 
obviously the proprietor. He had no deep prejudices and the former owner 
had been a mean and scrimy Yankee, but he had been white and even if 
he did molest the girls it wasn't this bad. The patronizing half-friendly 
greeting he had prepared for the ex-owner changed into resentment. The 
old Negro looked at him with weak questioning eyes. He mumbled some- 
thing about having his coat pressed and the old man waved him over to 
the same corner where he had sat so many times with Polly. 

But there was another Negro in the corner, a tall well-built man of his 
own age, clumsily cutting the buttons off an old coat. Nick took his off 
and handed it over. The Negro laid it on an ironing board and lifted a 
hot iron with a right hand badly maimed, a broken bone sticking out of 
it an inch high. 

The Negro saw the look of horror on Nick's face and shifted the iron to 
his left. His bad hand began to tremble and the great purple scar on the 
back of it seemed almost luminous. He pawed at the coat sleeves with the 
iron instead of stroking it and then plowed up the back like a canal boat, 
leaving a wake of wrinkles feathering out to the seam. 

— That's enough, that's enough, said Nick. He took up the coat and 
slipped it on. He put a coin down on the ironing board. He had seen that 
hand before, somewhere, but he couldn't quite place it. The other man 
pushed the money back at him with a sad smile to give him to understand 
that he was sorry about the wrinkles. Nick pushed it back. The man 
turned away. Nick gave it to the proprietor, hesitated, was about to say no 
wonder people don't want you here, thought better of it and left. 

— Know him Tony? said Coffin Pitts, the proprietor. Tony shook his 

— Didn't you want to take his money? 

— 'Twan't wuth it. I made the wrinkles worse. 

— I fergot about yore bad hand, Tony. 'Course you couldn't do it with 


the left. Still it never does to give a white man back his money. Jes' makes 
them suspicious. It wasn't a man you knew? I'd hate to lose you, Tony. 
He wasn't a man you broke away from spying you out? Tell me. It might 
be good to tell me. 

— No, Deacon Pitts. I spoke the truth. I broke away from no man. I fell 
asleep on a ship. 

— All right, Tony. It makes no difference to me. I'd just like to show 
more care if you broke away. I'd admire you for it if that's the truth. 

— I said the truth, Deacon. I can't say I broke away. 

Parker left the house for the back side of Beacon Hill to visit three or 
four boardinghouses where there were fugitives. His orderly researcher's 
mind was troubled by the vagueness of his task. The sight of the Cam- 
bridge coach about to leave Bowdoin Square reminded him of a young 
Virginian, an admirer of his, now attending Harvard Divinity School. He 
got on it just in time and as it rolled over the West Bridge, he rifled his 
memories of the young man. They became disturbing as he groped for 
the incidents of their first meeting. The man had come into his library one 
morning with a letter from an anti-slavery friend and introduced himself 
as a Southern student at the college. He had gone on to tell of a fugitive, 
the husband of a slave of his family, and said that the wife left in bondage 
was pining to hear from her mate and that he had heard that Parker 
knew everyone in Boston. Parker took down his name and told him to 
return. He looked him up and found his name was Conway, a former 
Methodist preacher, and that he had spent much of the previous summer 
with Emerson and Thoreau at Concord, boarding with the Hunt girls. 
Such references were above reproach so a few days later he had taken him 
among the fugitives, only to find that the fleeing husband had reached 
Canada. Parker had thought little of it at the time, being used for like 
missions over and over again. He anxiously sifted his impressions of the 
man's demeanor at the colored boardinghouse, trying to recall the sidelong 
glance or the voice tremble of a betrayer. By the time he got of! the coach 
at the square, he was half-convinced that he had been the dupe of an 

He went directly to Divinity Hall and found the room of Moncure Con- 
way. He knocked and was admitted. When Conway saw who it was, he 
was greatly startled and stepped back a moment to cover with a book a 
letter he was writing on the table. Parker waved aside an excessively com- 
plimentary greeting and came down hard with a question. 

— Do you know a man named Suttle from Virginia? 

— Yes, sir, 1 do. 

— And a man named William Brent? 

— Mr. Brent is distantly connected with my family, sir. 

— What are they doing in Boston ? 

— I'm sure I don't know, Mr. Parker. 

— Have you seen them ? 

— No. I've never been friendly with Colonel Suttle. In fact, there is bad 
blood between us. 

Conway tried to ingratiate. — He ran against my Uncle Richard for the 
Legislature and I wrote a squib about him for the Fredericksburg paper. 
I almost got horsewhipped for it. Why do you ask, sir ? 

— We've just got a report from the Revere House. They're in town — 
slave hunting, no doubt. 

— I don't think Colonel Suttle had many servants, sir. He might have 
had a few mortgaged out, but it wouldn't be his responsibility to catch 
them if they ran away. 

As Parker looked at him, Conway sensed that he was suspected. His 
mind flashed back to the day in the colored boardinghouse. He had been 
overcome, as he put it, with the pleasant way of Parker with the humble 
women clustering about him. He had been as sweet and soft with them 
as he was hard now. So Parker thought he had been spying that day. 
He suddenly wanted to get out into the hall's dimness and coolness. 

— There's someone here that wants to see you, he blurted. — Be right 
back. He opened the door and darted out. Parker made no move to stop 
him or to go himself. The moment gave him a chance to look at the letter 
that Conway had hidden so furtively. He lifted the book over it. The book 
was a translation of the Bhagavad-Glta and was Emerson's copy. What a 
perfect coloration has this serpent. Then he read the letter. It was not to 
Colonel Suttle giving the address and occupants of a boardinghouse on 
Southac Street. It was to Theodore Parker asking him to preach the 
commencement sermon. 

He was amazed. There had been a glass-studded wall of hatred between 
him and the school for many years . . . since he had said that the Egyp- 
tians could embalm a mummy in seventy days while the Divinity profes- 
sors took three years to mummify a student. He said that one of its savants 
was milking a barren heifer while the other was holding a sieve. 

Conway returned to Parker with another student and together they told 
him that their class had unanimously voted to have him preach and that 
thev had intended to call on him that afternoon. 

— What luck you dropped in, said the other one. 

Parker smiled sheepishly at Conway. — I can imagine how startled I 
looked to see you, Moncure said. 

— Well, it is true that I am a clergyman and do preach sermons at the 
Music Hall. But it is also true that I am called by the organized clergy 
an infidel and, outside of the political arena, I don't think there is a man 
more hated than I in this state. Parker paused, shaping up his refusal. 

The two boys protested almost too fervently. 

— Of course, this hatred is mainly due to certain strong opinions I enter- 
tain about religion and morals. 

— I have never heard your ability criticized, sir, said Conway. 

— Perhaps not, or that I lacked reverence to God or love for man, or 
had disregard for truth and justice. 

Moncure held his peace on that one. Parker had been scored for his 
seeming irreverence, for his hatred toward conservatives. The truth and 
justice of his infamous sermon on Webster had brought wild protests that 
there was neither truth nor justice in its corrosive text. 

— Still they call me an enemy to religion. I once loved pleasure and 
religion kept me in. I love ease and I can't take it. I loved money and I 
had plans and good prospects of taking in a hundred thousand dollars but 
religion forbade me to be rich while the poor needed food and the igno- 
rant to go to college. Religion keeps me doing a thousand things I do not 
like to do. I love fame and yet for religion I took a path I knew would lead 
me to infamy all my life and if anything comes of it, it will be when I am 
wholly oblivious of all such things. 

He picked up one or two of the books on the table. They were elegantly 
bound and the two boys looking at him were sleek and groomed. Their 
voices were soft. He sat in a chair by the window and looked out at the 
flowering and sedately sw r aying elms. His voice got sharper as though he 
were arguing against a division in himself. 

— I love the society of cultivated people, a good name, respectability 
and all that. My religious convictions have deprived me of them all . . . 
have made me an outcast and the companion of outcasts. I see men star- 
ing at me in the street, and saying There goes Theodore Parker, and look- 
ing at me as though I were a murderer. Old friends, even parishioners, 
will not bow to me in public. I knew this would happen, mind you. It has 
come from my religion for all the world would give. Go thou and preach. 

The two boys were disturbed by this oration.They didn't know why 
he should have unburdened himself, abased himself, for them. They 
wondered if it was criticism of them. Conway's friend said nervously, 

.--We'd like to have you speak on miracles. That was unanimous too. 

— I can't preach for you, Parker said. — I must decline. 

— Why not? said the boy, feeling as if it might be a personal slight of 
some kind. 

— I've told you why not. 

— But sir, Conway said, — we know all that. We insist on choosing the 
man we want. In spite of your so-called infidelism, we feel you are defend- 
ing our right to enter on an unfettered ministry. 

— No, Parker said with finality. — I should rejoice to do it but the pro- 
fessors have already been embarrassed by the reputation of your class for 
radicalism and this would embarrass them further. Get someone less 
notorious. Besides, I'm more interested in another kind of fetters. Tell me 
about this Colonel Suttle. 

— Well, said Conway, wondering how he could get his classmate out of 
the room before Parker got too direct, — Suttle is just a petty politician. 

— Ah, said Parker. — A Democrat of course. 

— No. He's of the Whig persuasion. 

— That's good. That's good. That means he won't be backed up by the 
administration. These slave hunts are always political dodges. 

— How do you know, Mr. Parker, that he's a slave hunter ? 

— What else would a Virginian do in Boston since 1850? 

— I'm a Virginian, sir, Moncure said in a flash of indignation. 

— I beg your pardon. You are an honorable one, no doubt. 

— Colonel Suttle may be, for all we know. 

— All right, Conway. I don't want to stir up your sectionalism. I just 
want to know who is getting kidnaped. 

— I'm sure I don't know, said Moncure coldly. He put his hand on his 
schoolmate's shoulder. — You'd better put on your walking boots, Carle- 
ton, if we want to make our ramble a long one. 

The other boy shook hands gingerly with Parker and scooted out. Mon- 
cure busied himself at the table, lifted up his letter to Parker and started 
to tear it up. Then, realizing this might seem an insult, handed it to Par- 
ker. — Perhaps you'd like to keep this letter? 

Parker took it without comment and said, — If you sent your card in at 
the Revere House, would he see you? 

— Why, yes. 

— Will you see him then and question him? 

Conway was silent for a moment; then said weakly, — No. 

— Why not? 

— Because I don't like the man. I wouldn't know what to say to him. 


— Find out why he's here, that's all. You'd be doing a great service. 
I can guarantee that. 

— Can you guarantee that no harm will come to him as a result of my 
visit ? 

Parker paused. — No, he said gruffly. 

— Then I will not see him. 

— Why these scruples, Conway ? The man is either harmless and won't 
be molested or he's a kidnaper and should be. 

— Mr. Parker, I'm sorry . . . but I must resent this indiscriminate de- 
nunciation of slaveholders. 

— Could you just give us the number of his room? 

— No. If I see Colonel Suttle or get mixed up in this case, the word will 
get to my friends at home and harden their hearts against me. I'm anti- 
slavery but I believe that it can only be abolished by the union of all hearts 
and minds opposed to it. 

— Worrying about the opinions of your neighbors is a poor way to start 
yourself in the ministry. 

— Not if you intend to convert them as I do. I have an offer of a church 
in Washington. I want to go there with clean hands. I want to preach anti- 
slavery in Richmond as well. 

Parker reached for his hat. — It's too late for that. 

— Has it ever been tried? 

He shook Moncure's soft hand and walked to the door. — Perhaps it 
hasn't. Good-by, sir, and thank you and your classmates for your fine ges- 

He walked thoughtfully back to Harvard Square and caught a coach 
back to Boston. There was only one more man who could save spreading 
panic among three hundred fugitives. This was a colored preacher, 
Leonard Grimes. Now he must go to him with a heart filled with sus- 
picion and deceit. 

Benjamin Franklin Hallett handed out the plums in this area. He had 
grabbed off the best one himself. He was the United States District Attor- 
ney. He sat two days a week, granting political boons in the office of the 
United States Marshal at the City Courthouse. He was a huge man, way 
over normal height and heavy to fit. His belly was so big he could never 
sit close to a desk and his chair had to be reinforced. He had the hair of a 
small boy, falling in light cowlicks and bangs on a bulging brow. His nose 
was small, lost and young-looking in his great inflated cheeks. His teeth 


were short, like baby teeth, and when he smiled he rolled his head around 
like a huge ball with his eyes lost in fat, his ears tiny and set close and his 
teeth like yellow stitches on the pigskin of the great ball. 

Nick tried to enter the Courthouse through the front way, up the grand 
stairs and under the great columns, but was soon told that the Marshal's 
office was around the side door . . . and there was hostility in the remark. 
The side door was mean and low by comparison but the office had a very 
expensive carpet. Patrick Riley, the Deputy Marshal, was lounging in the 
door. He was a small, wiry man with a stubby chin, round eyes, shaggy 
eyebrows and spiky hair. He moved with a queer shuffle, his head ten 
inches before the rest of him, and when he turned to talk his breath was 
like the mud flats at low tide. He told Nick that Hallett would see him. 
— I'll see to that after the good work you've done, me lad. 

Riley shuffled over to the door of the inner office. He planted his feet 
boldly on the outside of the threshold and then timidly thrust his head 
into the room. Nick watched him with wonder. He was standing at an 
angle so sharp that it looked as if he would have chosen to fall flat on his 
face rather than step into the room. 

Suddenly he straightened up and turned around, waving Nick wildly 
in as if he feared that Ben Hallett would change his mind in a 

Queeny nervously crossed the carpet, not daring to look at the many 
other mendicants that he was by-passing. Pat Riley stepped aside to let 
him by, placing his hand gently on Nick's back as if he had just stood up 
at his christening and shuffled back to his place at the door. 

Ben sat facing away from the desk with his legs spread wide so that 
Nick had to head right into him and take a chair without preparing his 
face or his manner for the interview. Ben's voice was high and loud and 
he had a petulant good nature in it. He was the sort that gives off stinging 
and sarcastic remarks and then winks broadly directly after so that if you 
take offense you feel like a fool. 

— I don't think we've met before, have we, Mr. Queeny? said Ben. 

— No sir. I've seen you, but I guess you never saw me. 

— Riley said you've done a lot of work for the Party. Why haven't I 
ever seen you at our meetings? 

— Well, sir, during the campaign I spent most of my time at the other 
fellows' meetings. 

— Why was that? said Ben. 

— I went to their meetings to listen in and then expose them. That's 
when I wrote all the pieces for the papers. 


— Oh, the pieces. Riley was telling me something about them. But you 
didn't sign them, did you, Mr. Queeny? 

— No sir, I wanted to but they thought it best that I didn't. 

— Then that explains it. Now what can I do for you, sir? I'd like to 
help you if I can. 

— I want a position with the Custom House, Mr. Hallett. 

— Who doesn't, Mr. Queeny? I'm afraid that's out of the question right 
now. I could give you a letter to the senior editor of the Boston Post. 
Just let me jot down a few things about you. 

Ben reached for a pad of paper and a pencil. He looked at it a second 
or two then said, — Perhaps you'd better do it, Mr. Queeny. Just write 
down your qualifications. 

— What qualifications do I need for the Custom House, sir? he said. 
Ben gave him an irritated look. — I thought I told you that the Custom 

House is filled up. I said I'd give you a letter to the Post. 

— I'm not interested in the Post, sir. I've been there and the best I can 
get is a penny-a-line job. I need something steady now. 

— The Custom House is not steady, Mr. Queeny. You'll be turned out 
if we lose an election. 

— How are we going to lose if them that works hard are taken care of 
and the boats keep arriving? 

— You're a sharp customer, Mr. Queeny, and that's the truth, but don't 
think this Custom House job is all skittles and beer. There's a lot of 
nasty work to it, climbing down in ships' holds and weighing coal and 
handling dried codfish and all kinds of disagreeable tasks. Now a man of 
your obvious intelligence . . . 

Nick's temper began to rise. He had held off too long now in making 
his demand and this was a long, long shot. He wanted that job so much 
he didn't care how many bridges he burned. He was tired of grease and 
noise and factories and he was beginning to get tired of Ben Hallett. 

— Why can't I have the job in the Custom House? he said, cold turkey. 

— You haven't the proper qualifications, background and all that. Most 
of our men went to the Latin School and can speak a bit of French or 
Spanish. How high did you go in reckoning? I mean did you ever study 
higher mathematics? 

— No, said Nick. 

— Well then, said Ben insultingly, and then he shifted around to the 
desk and tried to inch up to within writing distance. 

Nick scrawled a few lines down on the paper, trying to keep his temper, 
and then stood up. He laid the pad on the desk. 


— Would you mind signing this? he said. 

— What is it? said Ben, drawing back from it as if it were going to 

— It's just a statement saying that you won't give me a job because I 
haven't the qualifications. Because I didn't go to Boston Latin School and 
study higher mathematics. 

— Why should I sign it? I don't have to sign anything. 

— Well, I'm going higher with this and I don't want to be sent around 
to you again. That will save me the trouble. 

— That's a damned lie, Queeny. You must want to make trouble for 
me. But I'm not afraid of a little squirt like you. You'd better save the 
fare to Washington city, if that's what you've got in mind. They won't 
listen to you down there. 

Nick started away. — I'm not going to Washington. I'm going to the 

Ben got out of his chair. — Come here a minute, Queeny! he said 

Nick turned slowly back, trying to keep his lip from twisting up at the 
corner in triumph. 

Ben snatched up the little pad and threw it violently into a waste- 
basket. — You see, Mr. Queeny, what I do to your threats! Now let's 
not have any misunderstanding about this. I'd like to talk further with 
you but not because I'm the least bit afraid of what you're going to do 
after you leave this office. Is that clear? 

— Yes, said Nick. 

— Sit down. Ben stood before him with his hands in his pockets, a 
great mountain of a man looking down over his belly. 

— You're not the only one that wants a soft job, said Ben. — Let's be 
frank, Queeny, it's a soft job and a good paying job. But I have hundreds 
of applications whenever there's a place vacant. Who am I going to give 
them to, unless I draw up some standard? I say to these people, Prove 
qualification, and I say the same to you. 

— What were Hawthorne's qualifications outside of being a Yankee? 
He says himself he did nothing but vote and listen to one or two speeches. 

Ben moved with agility to the desk and picked up Hawthorne's biog- 
raphy of Pierce. — This, for one thing. 

— But that was written after he left the Custom House. 

— For services rendered. We took a chance, Ben said. 

— I don't consider that much, said Nick. — A humdrum life of a great 
man is no great job of work. 

T 4 

— A great man? said Ben with one of his winks. He laid down the 
book and stood again directly before Nick. — Perhaps you are too young 
to realize this, but great men never become Presidents. The life of Pierce 
is the finest flight of imagination Hawthorne's mind ever took. What was 
Pierce? A backwoods New Hampshire lawyer, a general who fainted on 
his horse on the way to battle in Mexico, a Senator who had to resign his 
office to stop drinking. This might shock you but you've been frank with 
me and I'll return the compliment. I made Pierce. I and Caleb Cushing 
and JefiF Davis of Mississippi. We brought him in at the Baltimore Con- 
vention on the forty-ninth ballot. I got Judge Conway of Virginia to nom- 
inate him. Then Henry Wise came in with the whole Virginia delegation. 
Nobody knew who he was. We made him. Judge Conway's nephew is out 
at Harvard. I wonder if he wants a job at the Custom House this summer. 
You see how difficult it is. 

— You just said it was easy, said Nick shrewdly, — easy to make a Presi- 
dent. Why don't you get some men behind you and take the job? If you 
can make a king you can be one yourself. 

— Why? said Ben sadly. — I'll tell you why. Because the Kingmaker 
doesn't smoke, doesn't drink, hasn't got time and doesn't dare offend the 
righteous. Because the Kingmaker has to keep the folk at home cheering 
while the heroes are fainting on their horses. Because he's bringing around 
some coal and groceries to the poor of the precinct and lining up their 
votes while the king candidates are plotting over their champagne. Be- 
cause he's the workhorse of the Party and he can't lay down his load long 
enough to parade by the judges' stand. Oh, it makes the galled jade wince 
to see the honors bestowed on the pleasure ponies. I once argued a case 
against Daniel Webster before the Supreme Court on the right of the 
people to choose their own form of government. Frank Pierce defends the 
textile interests against the ten-hour day for workingmen. 

— The people don't know about it, about what you do, said Nick, rising 
to his feet, carried away in spite of himself by Ben's speech. — Why don't 
you tell them ? Why don't you let me tell them ? He reached into his pocket 
for a thick wad of clippings of his newspaper writings. — I could tell 'em. 
Give me a job around here, let me be the Kingmaker for a while. 

Ben took the clippings with a smile and sat down to read a few. 

When people are forced to live in the same house without dignity for 
either one of them, there is a hate between as tender as sympathy. And 
when the Colonel's and the waiter's eyes met at breakfast, bitter knowl- 


edge passed between them. And in the grating of their eyeballs, each felt 
the shame and the recoil of their common degradation. The waiter, being 
the more humble and selfless one, went about his now apparent task with 
quiet dispatch. But the Colonel, heir of an uneasy conquest, had to move 
with the clang of a man in armor. . . . 

He and his toady left the dining room and stepped blinking into the 
May morning sun. It was unmistakably a Boston morning because it 
smelled like coffee. The wind was off the Harbor, coming up and then 
over the warehouses and roasting ovens down by India Wharf. But in 
the Colonel's big trumpet nose was the stink of fear, for not far off was 
a tight knot of stout Negroes looking at him again with the tender bruised 
eyeballs of hate. 

He and Brent tried to walk them off by going into two or three bar- 
rooms, but they came in too and that was the most frightening thing of all. 

At last they got to Pemberton Square and to the office of George T. Cur- 
tis .. . the Slave Commissioner, and the man who had sent back Thomas 
Sims to his rightful master. When the Colonel gave him the papers, the 
Commissioner studied them carefully. Then, chancing to look out of 
the window, he saw the little knot of Negroes and he looked back at the 
Colonel with the same bitter knowledge. It ended by his walking to the 
door to show them quietly out, handing back the papers with a bow. True, 
there were some words spoken, the greeting, the feinting, the bald request, 
the firm, quiet resistance, the pleading and the dismissal. But they were 
dead words of formality and the morning stayed transfixed and trancelike 
until, in another bar, the Colonel slapped his hand down on the wet and 
sticky wood and said, — By God, I'll take him myself. I've got every 
right to. 

Brent tried to quiet him down but the Colonel, like an ugly crocodile 
who had been sliding quietly along just under the surface, broke up 
through the water and opened his mouth wide to proclaim his place in the 
harsh upper element. 

— Every right, Cushing said, and gave me a paper to prove it. 

Brent agreed with him but pointed out that if he took his fugitive he 
had no place to retreat to ... no citadel, no bastion, and that in spite of 
the notorious Yankee cowardice, and in spite of the fact that the Colonel 
had every right, he couldn't bring him back to the hotel and keep him 
chained up in the stables. To this the Colonel, now canny with strong 
drink, interposed another bit of wise counsel from the Attorney General. 
— We'll lug him to the office of the United States Marshal and put us all 
under his protection. 


And over the self-protective objections of Mr. Brent, they headed for 
the Courthouse and the United States Marshal's office. 

Parker finally got to the church, signed as the Twelfth Baptist, but bet- 
ter known as "the Fugitive Slave's Church." It was brand new and a 
monument to humility. Its pastor, Leonard Grimes, a freeborn octoroon, 
had raised it at a time of the greatest tribulation for his flock by standing 
patiently on the stairways and in the hallways of the wealthy with his hat 
in his hand. Because he had never raised his voice or lowered his dignity 
or acted as other than a faithful shepherd, he had collected over ten thou- 
sand dollars to give his flock a fold. 

Parker found him in the upper room of the two-story building. He was 
kneeling when Parker caught sight of him. Parker paused a moment at 
the top of the stairs but Mr. Grimes turned and rose. He had been wash- 
ing the floor and he tried to hide his wet hands behind him. Parker 
walked over to him with his hand outstretched and Mr. Grimes offered 
him a very clean one that had been wiped furtively on a shirttail. 

Parker regretted that he had arrived at this moment and longed to tell 
him to go on with his work, and to get down there with him and scrub. 
But instead there was awkwardness on Mr. Grimes's part. Mr. Grimes, like 
the other orthodox clergy, didn't know what to make of Parker. At the 
very least, Parker was a rebellious man and the colored folk in his church 
were filled with their pastor's spirit. 

Parker, as usual, plunged headlong into the matter. — We have reason 
to believe, Mr. Grimes, that there are two slave hunters at the Revere 
House. Have you any acquaintance with a fugitive from Virginia? 

— Why, no, Mr. Parker. I can't say I know of any in immediate danger. 

— Then they'll all have to be warned. Could you spread the alarm 
among your people while I canvass the boardinghouses? 

Mr. Grimes turned to a chair by the wall and slowly put on his coat. 
— I don't like to refuse you, Mr. Parker, but I've got to have more 
to go on before I do that. He avoided Parker's eyes and fiddled with 
his cuff. 

— That's just the trouble, Mr. Grimes, we haven't any more to go on. 
I was told about the two men and I took it upon myself to spread the 

— Perhaps there's no reason to be alarmed, Mr. Parker. I don't think 
there's any danger. Sometimes people get riled up and it doesn't happen. 

Parker stared at him in amazement. He did not expect people to run at 


his bidding, but he figured other people should work as hard and tena- 
ciously as himself in a cause that was common to both of them. 

Mr. Grimes stretched out his hands in a pleading way. — You see, 
Mr. Parker, I couldn't go to my people at this time with a message of fear. 
We're going to dedicate the church in two days. Would you want me to 
spoil the harvest? The last time we had trouble like this, over forty of my 
people fled to Canada. 

— You won't have much of a dedication if one of your parishioners is 

— But you have no proof to go on, Mr. Parker. You don't know the 
man. Must we make them all miserable? I can't do it, Mr. Parker. I can't 
go from this place and turn their rejoicing into sorrow. And they've 
worked so hard. And their faith is so strong. 

Parker felt baffled. He looked around at the trim little hall. He plunged 
his hands into his pockets and walked over to the scrubbing brush and 
gave it a kick. — Then what are we to do, Mr. Grimes? I've dropped 
everything and come out this morning to sound the alarm and . . . 

— And we pay no heed? It isn't that, Mr. Parker. It's just that I don't 
feel in my heart the Lord would let anything mar this occasion we've 
worked and prayed for so hard. He just couldn't, Mr. Parker. 

— This wouldn't be the first, Mr. Grimes. They've kidnaped two men 
already and they're lusting for a third to teach us that they are in earnest 
about the Nebraska Bill. 

— They took Shadrach, Mr. Parker, but he got free of them and got 
to Canada. 

— They took Thomas Sims back. And now they say he's dead of a 

— Thomas Sims was not of our following. 

— Well, he was of mine. . . . Parker stopped. He didn't want to carry 
the inference any further. It was true. Shadrach had got free and Shadrach 
went to Mr. Grimes's church. Thomas Sims, Parker's parishioner, had 
stabbed Asa Butman in the stomach when he was taken and had been 
delivered up by the entire police force of Boston. Besides, in this discussion 
he was up against something he couldn't whip . . . simple faith. He 
didn't have it and he couldn't fight it. He struggled as it began to con- 
quer him. 

— Be fair, Mr. Grimes. Shadrach got free because Lewis Hayden led 
a mob into the Courthouse and swept him away from the Deputy Marshal. 
And Hayden and the others were arrested for it and stood trial. 

— And they got free. Lewis Hayden and all the others. 

— Only because there was a Garrisonian on the jury. That was sheer 

— Was it, Mr. Parker? At any rate, sir, they got free. 

Parker began to feel more quiet in his mind. The idea of struggle 
and flight seemed far away and its acceptance disloyal and melodramatic 
in this simple dedicated upper room with its white walls and Shaker-like 
red-painted woodwork. Mr. Grimes laid a timid hand on his sleeve. 

— Shall we have a prayer about it? ... He knelt down. Then Parker 
did too, Methodist style, on one knee, although he was a Unitarian. He 
was willing to go halfway. But out of the corner of his eye, he could see the 
basin filled with the soapy water for the floor and he didn't know whether 
he was invoking Christ or Pilate. 

Hallett and Queeny were still sitting at Hallett's desk at the Courthouse 
when Riley ushered in the two Virginians. The Colonel was tense and Mr. 
Brent looked as if he had been having a very hard time with him. The 
Colonel moved up to Ben with a snipelike abruptness and put his hand 
over the pistol bulging under his coat. Ben stood up at once and looked 
anxiously to see if Riley was standing by. His discomfiture was heightened 
when he saw that he knew the man and had used him at the Baltimore 
Convention to bribe a few backwoods Virginians to get on the Pierce band- 
wagon. He recalled him with sickening clarity as a loud-mouthed bore 
who beat out a wild oratorical rub-a-dub when half drunk. 

— Good mornin', suh, said the Colonel. — Am I addressin' the United 
States Marshal? 

Ben seized his gun hand quickly. — No, sir. I am the United States 
Attorney. He decided against giving his name, in hopes that the Colonel 
would not remember him. 

— That is even better, suh. I am Colonel Charles Suttle of Virginia, 
and this is my travelin* companion, Mr. Brent. 

Ben completed the introduction. Nick made to go, but Ben held his 
sleeve. The Colonel went on: — I wish an opinion on a very important 
matter and perhaps you are the very man who can give it to me. 

Ben acknowledged that he was flattered and would do his best. 

— I believe that it is a law that a United States citizen has the right to 
reclaim a slave in any state or territory in the Union and if there is no 
United States Commissioner to act, the claimant may proceed to capture 
without judicial process. ... I believe I am citin' it correct? Learned it on 
the train comin' up. 


Ben nodded his head in assent. — You have a point there. 

— Thank you most kindly, sir, said the Colonel with a lordly bow. 
— Let's go, Billy. He put his hand on the pistol butt. 

Ben held his hand out quickly to tease the Colonel's away from the 
gun. — Colonel, I had the honor of meeting you at the Convention. You 
were, as I recall, a very influential member of the Virginia delegation* 
Perhaps you remember me? Benjamin Franklin Hallett? 

— Indeed I do, sir, now that I think of it. Well, Chairman Hallett . . . 
with all due respect, I would have recognized you more quickly gracin* 
the Cabinet of the President. Is this your reward? I'm ashamed, sir, for 
the Democratic Party. 

— Very kind of you Colonel, I'm sure. But a good soldier goes where 
he is needed most. Are you looking for a fugitive? 

— Not lookin', sir. I've found one of my slaves up here and I'm goin > 
to fetch him back. 

— That is your right, Colonel. But I hope you are going to observe due 
process of the law, 

— Yes, sir. Jest as I cited it to you. He slapped his coat pocket per- 
plexedly. — I wish I could find that little ole paper. I had the rulin' all set 
down for me by General Cushing but I reckon I lost it. 

— Attorney General Cushing, asked Ben, with proper deference. 

— I'm not ashamed to say, sir, that I have friends in high places and I'm 
not too proud to use 'em. I count Mr. Jeff Davis a friend too and if the 
Attorney General and the Secretary of War can't help me to bring a run- 
away slave back where he belongs, I say God help America. 

Ben prevailed on the Colonel and his friend to sit down. He sent 
Queeny out for a bottle and Riley for Marshal Freeman. He found that 
the Colonel had been followed about since his arrival by four or five 
Negroes and was under a great nervous strain. He explained to him that 
it was not the custom in New England to carry side arms, and soothed 
him and got roundabout to the heart of the matter. 

— I think General Cushing's ruling on the capture of a fugitive with- 
out judicial process applies to a territory rather than a state, Colonel. As a 
matter of fact, we have nine duly appointed Commissioners here and if 
you have a man who owes service . . . 

— I've already applied to Commissioner Curtis and was turned away. 

— George T. Curtis ? 

— Yes, suh, and he'd have none of me. I got all the papers ... all in 
order. And he's tooken a solemn oath to carry them out, I believe. And 
he turned me away. I was mortified. I felt the injury to my state as well. 


I have been sent up to git my boy by some very important folk back home 
and I won't go back without him. . . . 

Ben's voice rolled out like sirup. — Of course you understand there's a 
great deal of agitation on this subject here in Boston, Colonel. Mr. Curtis 
perhaps didn't want to stir up prejudice. 

— Prejudice! Why should they be prejudiced against a man who has 
tooken a solemn oath that he would carry out the law of the Union ? We 
in the South hold the colored men as slaves. There are many up here that 
look on us as though we were monsters in human shape. But if that be 
the case, the Colonies were all monsters when they gained their inde- 
pendence. . . . The liquor arrived and the Colonel had a drink, warming 
more to his subject. — These are the facts and they will go South and be 
printed in large colors. There is firebrands going from one to the other. 
It is much easier to believe the bad than the good. We are creatures of evil 
as the sparks fly upward. 

Ben asked him if he could see the papers and the Colonel produced the 
transcript from the Alexandria Court stating that the Colonel had given 
satisfactory proof that Anthony Burns was held to service and labor to 
him and that the said Anthony Burns was a man of dark complexion, 
about six feet high with a scar on one of his cheeks and also a scar on the 
back of his hand and was about twenty-three or twenty-four years of age. 
. . . It is there j ore ordered, in pursuance of an act of Congress . . . 

Having seen enough, he asked Queeny to go up to the Probate court- 
room and fetch Judge Loring down. 

The Colonel had another drink and went on: — The two parties are 
getting further and further from the conciliating line and men for the 
sake of office would cut our Union asunder. The man is afraid that if he 
stands up to the law, someone can find a great many holes in this matter 
and say thus and so. But the anti-slavery part of the community ... I 
have nothing to throw out against them, I think some of them are figuring 
about for office and can be bought for six and a quarter cents a head. They 
think it is a crime to hold slaves but we have a right under the greatest 
power under the heavens, the flag, of which I am proud to say I am one 
of its citizens. . . . 

Riley arrived with Marshal Watson Freeman. Freeman was a tall man 
with a small, pock-marked face that made him think he looked like Gen- 
eral Washington. But he was a cautious man, and when Ben told him 
about the fugitive he got very gloomy. He wanted to know who had signed 
the warrant. When he heard that George T. Curtis had turned it down, 
he felt worse. — Who's going to sign it? he asked. 


— I've sent for Judge Loring, Ben answered. 

Watson shook his head. — Loring won't do it. What made you think 
of him ? He's a Whig for one thing. 

— Coalition, smiled Ben. — I think it just as well the Party stayed in the 
background in this case. After it's all over, we can take credit. But during 
the critical period, it might be better to share the burden. 

Freeman could see the point. 

Ben turned to the Colonel, who was getting a mite sleepy, and explained 
that he was getting a man to sign a warrant that would empower Freeman 
as United States Marshal to seize the fugitive. He told him that the more 
swiftly it was done, the less trouble and expense it would mean all around. 
The Colonel was agreeable. He told Ben that a sizable sum had been got- 
ten up to pay his expenses and that Senator Mason, the man who had 
written the Fugitive Slave Bill, had been a leading contributor. Watson 
Freeman looked gloomier and gloomier. 

Ben took great pride in his mastery of the details of the task and while 
the small talk went on, saw to it that a clerk drew up the warrant. He 
chuckled to himself at the idea of having Loring, the Probate Judge, give 
the decision. Loring was acting as a law professor at Harvard and was a 
former law partner of Horace Mann and his appearance in the case would 
not only dumbfound the anti-slavery forces, but also bring down fire on 
the Whigs. He felt annoyed at the Marshal's listless gloom. The Marshal 
was politically naive. He didn't realize who was behind all this. He spoke 
sharply to him. — You'll have to raise a posse for this. 

— What posse ? said the Marshal. — I thought you were going to do this 
quietly. I can't get anyone to serve after what happened on the Sims case. 

— Just for an emergency. We don't want any trouble but if there is, we 
need about sixty men to guard the Courthouse. 

— Where would I get sixty men? There's only one man in town who 
could get me sixty men like that. 

— That's up to you. We should have all arrangements completed by 
tomorrow night. Take the man at dusk Wednesday. We'll examine him 
Thursday. On the same day he'll be on his way back to Virginia. There'll 
be a report sent to Washington ready when the Nebraska Bill is put up 
for a final vote. It will show them they have nothing to fear from the 
North. It's very simple if it's planned right. Make sure you have ample 

— Louis Varelli can get me sixty men in four hours. 

— Are you crazy ? Ben shouted. — What are you talking about ? 

— What's the matter with him? 

— He's a known murderer, that's all! He threw a woman off the 
Charlestown Bridge. We can't afford to get ourselves beholden to him. 

— He can get the men. He told me. He can assemble them in four 

— Assemble them . . . My God! He's got more than that hanging 
around that bawdy house of his; and his wife, or his sister, or whatever he 
calls her, is the best-known whore in town. 

Judge Loring heard the last as he appeared at the door. He was a quiet, 
benign-looking man, designed by nature to minister the legal manna to 
the widows and orphans. He stood there with a shy smile, somewhat 
puzzled at the summons to the Marshal's office, but ready to serve. 

When he had met Suttle and heard the case he no longer smiled. 

He began to question the Colonel intently. Ben figured he was looking 
for a loophole more for himself than for the slave. 

— The man definitely owes service, Judge, said Ben, trying to be offhand 
about it. — Colonel Suttle didn't even have to declare his connection with 
the case. The simple declaration of the Colonel's agent, Mr. Brent here, is 
enough to remand the fugitive. 

— I'm familiar with the law, the Judge replied tartly. — But I would 
like to know why they are so sure he's in Boston. Why, Mr. Brent? 

Ben signaled Brent to go ahead and do the talking. He tried to draw 
the Colonel off to the window, making some remark about nearby histor- 
ical monuments. 

Brent spoke up with slow deliberation. — We were settin' down at the 
post office and we saw a letter we had suspicions about so we opened 
it up. 

— You opened the United States mail? Where was the postmaster? 

— Oh, he was there. We do it all the time. 

Loring was shocked. — Will this letter be used as evidence, Mr. Hallett? 
Ben turned gingerly. 

— I believe, Judge, that the Attorney General has ruled that postmasters 
do not have to deliver material that might promote disaffection or rebel- 
lion among the colored population. 

— There may be such a ruling, Mr. Hallett, but how are they to know 
the matter is undesirable until they break the seal . . . which is, in effect, 
a felony? 

The Colonel spoke up brightly. — Of course we knew it was undesirable, 
your Honor. The letter was from the North. 

— Does that make it a seditious document, Colonel? My own daughter 
is writing letters to Southern friends all the time. 


The Colonel walked unsteadily over to the Judge. He had a drunken 
look of martyrdom on his big face. — There are many ladies here, Judge, 
and I hold the fair sex as the bond of union and the arch of strength — 
but notwithstanding their sympathies are strong, they know but little 
about the institutions of the South. Uncle Tom's Cabin has come up here 
and set up a Southern man as wearing horns and hoof and they believe it. 
Well, there are some true things in Uncle Tom's Cabin and considerable 
lies. These are the things that are firebrands. 

Ben gestured to Brent to shut the Colonel off. Brent said quickly, — We 
knew something was wrong with the letter because Colonel Suttle's 
breedin' woman came and asked for it. 

— What's a breeding woman ? said the Judge softly, looking hard at the 
end of his cigar. 

Ben cleared his throat like a thunderclap. — These points will all 
be taken up at the examination, Judge. Let's give Asa Butman this 
warrant and pick the man up. If he answers the description, it's all 

— What's a breeding woman, Mr. Brent? repeated the Judge. 

Brent explained simply: — We raise most of the slaves in Virginia to 
sell South. If we get a prime female that throws healthy young ones, 
we . . . Well, you've probably had cows out to bull, Judge. 

The Judge said he understood and Brent went on. — Well, she was 
Tony's sister and she asked for the letter. It was postmarked from Canada. 
But when we opened it, we found it was written in Boston and he had 
signed it. So I brought it to Colonel Suttle. 

The Judge asked him if he still had the letter and Brent gave it to him. 
It was crudely written but clear enough, telling of his employment at 
Deacon Pitts's shop on Brattle Street and ending with a prayer that she 
could find her way up North to freedom. 

The Judge handed it back and said, — Do you think he'll go back with- 
out a struggle, Colonel? 

— He'd better if he wants to save his back from some stripes. 

— Colonel, said Ben explosively, — aren't you giving off the wrong im- 
pression here ? Don't you treat your servants well ? 

— Of course it would save his back some stripes. I admit that. 

The Judge squashed out his cigar, nodded to all concerned and said, 
— Good-by, gentlemen. I don't think I can act in this case. 

After he had left, the Colonel turned to Brent and said, — Well, Billy, 
I reckon we'll still have to do the job ourselves. 

— No, said Ben. — I can't answer for the consequences of such a thing. 


If you go ahead and get into trouble, I'll wash my hands of the matter 
and so will the Marshal. 

Marshal Watson Freeman agreed. 

The Colonel narrowed his eyes at Ben. — I don't know what they're 
going to say about this in Washington. But I wouldn't be at all surprised 
if some heads roll. 

After a short but pregnant pause Ben said, — Colonel, you go over to 
the lawyers' building and engage Seth Thomas as your counsel. I'll prom- 
ise you that I'll have that warrant signed when you get back. 

— Let's try that, said Brent. — 'Tain't worth no more risk than that. 

— And leave those guns here, please, gentlemen. I have to answer to 
the community for things that go on in this office and we're not on too 
solid ground as it is. 

The Colonel had enough left in him for one more gesture. He took 
Brent's gun and his own and laid them carefully on Hallett's desk and 
said, — Shall we say half an hour, Mr. Hallett? 

Judge Loring got back to his chambers as quickly as he could. He went 
to light up another cigar but his hand was shaking. Instead, he leaned back 
in his chair and inhaled the sweet air of his office. It was soothing, com- 
pounded of the remembered aroma of orris-root powder sachet, scented 
handkerchiefs gently flourished, and the soft tears of well-scrubbed widows 
and orphans. It was hard enough to face the genteel tears of bereavement. 
He had no guts for the blood and sweat downstairs. 

But then his eyes lifted to the wall and to a lithograph of his idol,. 
Daniel Webster. As he walked nearer to it, he thought of how Daniel had 
died on the crooked horns of the same dilemma. As he stood close to it, he 
heard his door open and Ben approach ever so meekly. 

Ben stood a moment looking at the picture and then said with deep 
reverence, — I wish he were alive today. I'd give anything to be able to 
go to him with this problem. 

Judge Loring turned impatiently away but held his peace. 

— He was a bigger man than I am in every way, said Ben. — But he 
knew and felt the same prejudices that lie so heavy in my breast. 

— Prejudice, what prejudice? snapped the Judge, biting the tip off a 
cigar and lighting it after all. 

— The prejudice we all feel against that unfortunate creature down- 

— I thought that the Colonel and you were friends, Mr. Hallett. 


— Oh, dear no. He was for many years a Whig but he went the way 
of Brother Gushing. He's been true to one party, and that is himself. 

— What do you intend to do, Mr. Hallett ? 

— Nothing. He'll just have to take the man at his peril, I suppose. They 
were both armed. 

— Armed? The Judge's face crinkled in panic. 

— You know, I spent a good deal of time in Washington city in '38 
and I could always tell the Southern members by the bulging pistols under 
their coats. 

— Why are they armed ? The Judge stopped and tried to choke back his 
petulance. — Surely they don't intend to take the man themselves without 
due process? We can't have that backwoods violence here! 

— Unfortunately, they do. They think that they have no choice in 
the matter, since their document, although perfectly in order, has been 

Ben, watching out of the corner of his eye, saw the Judge sag again 
in pain. He pressed his advantage in a soft melancholy tone. — These are 
trying times, sir, and we're caught smack in the middle. Our only weapon 
is the law. We have the dread responsibility of keeping it intact against 
violence from both sides. Naturally our humanitarianism drives us into 
the camp of our friends and neighbors hereabouts. We are weak. 

He sighed and looked up again at Webster's picture, throwing back his 
shoulders like a newly dedicated man. — I recall every word he said on 
this problem. His greatest speech, Judge . . . the Seventh of March . . . 
greater than the Hayne Debate. We in Massachusetts have conquered the 
barren soil, the wild sea, and now we must conquer our prejudices. 

He swung abruptly around, made as if to go, spoke his next lines in 
deep-voiced sadness. — And they crucified him for it; for saying what 
every lawyer worth his salt must, that a contract drawn and signed must 
be upheld whether it's between people or between states or a cageful of 
ring-tailed monkeys. 

Loring turned suddenly to Ben, his face tormented by indecision. 
— Why can't you do it, Hallett? You're a slave commissioner yourself. 

— I'm also the United States District Attorney. Prejudice again. They'd 
say I was not acting impartially to assume both judicial and prosecuting 
powers. No. I'm determined to keep out of this. That's why you are 
needed. You are already a deeply respected Judge, professionally impartial. 

The Judge sat at his desk in despair. — But I'm a guardian of widows 
and orphans. I owe it to my office not to become involved in controversy. 
I can't afford to be singled out for abuse. The people I deal with, bereaved, 


grieving people, don't like to bring their affairs into an office standing in 
the limelight, the target of cheap-jack agitators. 

— That's just why I want to use your office, Ben said. — It's not the kind 
of an office they can throw the limelight on. I want to effect the whole 
thing quietly, secretly if you must know. I don't want to make political 
capital out of this. That's why I come to you, a man of the opposite party 
from my own. Surely two men can join quietly and carry out a distasteful 
duty without flinching or putting personal considerations in the way. 
However, said Ben sadly — if it's wrong for you, it's wrong for me and 
I'll withdraw and let them get the man themselves with the Colts they 
have in their pockets. 

The Judge signed the warrant. 




The next day was Tuesday and the event was still unfolding slowly, 
hardly more than a ripple. Two men started the day with the sunrise, mov- 
ing at the same time toward different goals. 

Ben Hallett took hold of things like this with a sure but cautious grasp. 
He had a meeting of his staff that morning. He staged it in a well-known 
eating place at the breakfast table. He made sure it was a temperance 
house with nice white tablecloths where he could be seen by the right 
people. Ben knew the value of being seen eating in public in a decent, 
solid kind of way. He knew it would neutralize bad reaction to Asa But- 
man's affinity for saloons and raffish companionships. It was good for Wat- 
son Freeman, who looked his best over a plate of codfish balls; looked 
like the very apogee of the Yankee public servant and man of affairs. Wat- 
son sat erectly at the table with his knife and fork held upright in his quiet 
hands, their butts resting on the tablecloth. He masticated slowly and 
silently. After he swallowed, he brought the silver down to the plate with 
the dexterity of a drummer, popped something into his mouth and then 
rested his fists again exactly three inches to the side of the plate. 

Ben smiled to himself over Watson's preference for codfish. Watson 
looked like a codfish himself. He had a small head, extremely sloping 
shoulders and a long neck. His head seemed to be without flesh. There 
was a great bank of bone over his eyes and his eyebrows were turned 
under it and hard to see. There were knobs of bones under his eyes too 
and his nose jutted out from his sharply sloping brow without an inden- 
tation. He wore false teeth and above the hard jut of the chin and the 
bumpy jawbone his chin stretched tight as a drumhead over the rows of 

Watson sensed Ben was looking at him and dropped the pale lids over 
his eyes, making the sockets like drill holes in a marble slab. 

'Ben had chosen a table by the window. It was a generous round one 


fitted with Windsor armchairs and it was comfortable there with the 
bright May sun filtering in through the fresh-starched white curtains. He 
could see the lawyers passing on the way to their offices in the Old State 
House and the merchants on their way to State Street. Ben bowed to them 
through the windows. Here I am, he nodded, with my staflf, out here in 
the open, carrying on the Government's business, accessible to all, with 
no secrets from anybody. 

Asa Butman was hidden from the window on his left. Asa was respect- 
able-looking, true, but that cockeye of his ruined the effect to some extent. 
— Look me in the eye, Ben would say when he wanted to rag him, be- 
cause of course poor Asa never could. But Asa had smooth skin, his hair 
lay neat and flat on his round head; his nose was straight and well cut 
and his teeth were good. Asa was over fifty and had led a rough life, but 
he looked better than a lot of church deacons Ben knew. 

Ben was taking inventory of his forces this morning. He was paying for 
the breakfast, of course. It was worth it to get them out into the light for 
a good look. 

He looked sharply at Pat Riley, chewing noisily on a piece of steak. 
Riley was a problem. He had arrived for the appointment with an untidy 
stubble of gray beard on his chin. But he had gone at once to the barber 
when Ben had spoken to him about it. Without resentment too, touch- 
ing his hat with one finger in that respectful coachman's way of his. 
Riley was loyal, Ben thought, he was the most loyal of them all. He was 
cowardly and somewhat stupid and untidy but Ben wouldn't have 
dropped him for the world. Old Pat was good for more votes than all 
the spread-eagle orators put together with their fancy blue vests and taper- 
ing white trousers. 

Was Watson loyal? Ben thought, turning to look at him again. . . . 
A little too fearful, timid under the cold codfish eyes, soft inside. Butman 
was loyal to himself and the money he could make. He was a constable 
now, and got paid per case. Ben decided he might put him on salary if he 
worked out well in this new problem. But they were all weak, all worried 
about their own skins too much. 

Finally he looked at Nick Queeny, who had been invited to join them 
this morning. Courage yes, Ben thought; loyalty, no. All the better since I 
am going to cast him for a Judas role and send him into the places where 
I can go no longer because of my eminence, and find out the childish strata- 
gems of the reformers who mask their secrets with no more than the un- 
conscious whimsy and sentimental turbulence of their dog-cheap elo- 


Watson, the slowest of the eaters, had at last laid his plate bare and put 
down his tools and folded his hands across his stomach. Ben brought out 
a map of the city and began to outline the plan of attack. 

Asa was to recruit some unemployed teamsters from the group hanging 
around the Custom House for pick-up jobs. They were to wait in Peter 
Brigham's barroom on Brattle Street and wait until Coffin Pitts and the 
fugitive closed up their shop and started home to Southac Street on the 
river side of Beacon Hill. After the man had been seized he was to be 
taken to the Courthouse and Watson was to proclaim him a fugitive and 
call upon Colonel Suttle to identify him. He was to be kept quietly in 
the Courthouse overnight and then brought before the Commissioner in 
the morning. The Commissioner, Judge Loring, would sign the papers 
of rendition and the man be turned over to his owner. The deputies would 
be paid for two full days although the case would be concluded before 
noon on Wednesday. 

Butman immediately found flaws in the scheme. — Don't forget, Ben, 
he said, — I got a knife in the gut from the other nigger. This time I'm 
going to knock him over the head from behind. 

— No, no, said Ben, trying to keep his voice down, — no rough stuff. 
We can't bring him before Judge Loring with any marks on him. Just 
approach him and put him under arrest. 

— It sounds easy the way you say it, Ben, sneered Butman, — but you 
never had your belly opened up. 

— Does yez want to git the wrong pig by the tail, Asa? said Riley. 
— Besides, how you goin' to knock him out from behind? The skulls on 
them is like iron. 

— All right, Asa said. — I'll say I'm from the City Police. 

— You'll say nothing, Asa, said Ben. — I'm trusting you with this be- 
cause I want it to go smoothly. We want no legal trouble from it. Take 
the man quietly, say nothing and bring him to Watson at the Courthouse. 
Surely you can do that. 

— All right, all right, mumbled Asa, keeping his reservations to him- 

Ben turned to Nick. — How would you like to be a member of the 
Marshal's posse comitatus? he asked. 

— I don't know, said Nick suspiciously. — Is it a steady job? 

— It pays three dollars a day and found. It will keep you out of mischief 
until we can fix something up at the Custom House. 

— How long will that be, sir? 

— I expect there'll be a vacancy in a few days, Ben said, smoothly. — In 


fact, there's a man leaving Thursday and I think you can replace him. 
Fellow named Snodgrass, a weigher, getting too old. 

Nick thought a moment and shrugged his shoulders. He was set on 
not going back to the factory. He'd try anything, anything. 

— All right, Mr. Hallett. But I'm still looking for something that'll be 

— I have a special task for you, Mr. Queeny, that requires a man with 
a little more polish than a teamster. We've got to take this man off by ship 
to Norfolk. I want you to go down to the wharves and arrange for dock- 
age. Say it's government business and that you want space for a revenue 
cutter. That's all you have to say . . . and the Marshal's office will pay the 

Nick nodded in assent. It would be an easy errand, hanging around the 
docks all morning. This was the life. He wanted all of this he could get. 

Ben leaned back and swept his eyes over the dining room, searching for 
someone he could transfer his attentions to and thus make a graceful sepa- 
ration from his flunkies. It wasn't well to be seen too long with them. He 
saw someone and waved cordially. 

— Well, gentlemen, he said getting up, — you may go along now to 
your duties. I'm going over and have a word or two with Justice Curtis. 

— What the hell good is that going to do? said Asa disrespectfully. 
— That narrowback wouldn't vote your way in a month of Sundays. 

— I'll thank you to remember, Butman, said Ben with a twinkle in his 
eye, — that I'm a Democrat politically but not socially. 

Parker woke with a headache. No. The headache woke him. It had 
been going all night and made his sleep fitful and feverish. He had cried 
out — No, no, in the high pitch of the dreamer, waking his wife. He pre- 
pared to take up his studying, ignoring the pains at the back of his skull 
and pressing iron hands on his temple. They were not new to him. But 
he could not look upon himself as a sick man. He was strong and vig- 
orous and no one knew what was going on inside his skull. He worried 
about his lungs a great deal, coming from a consumptive family, but he 
seemed to have no more coughs and colds than the average New Eng- 
lander. He had bought himself a stethoscope which he had hidden away 
and sometimes when the house was still and all were asleep he explored 
with fist-thumpings and heavy breathing the mysterious secret cavern of 
his chest. By now he knew the echoes of his interior, the wheezing, 
the rattlings, grazings, crackings and bubblings in his tubes and the fast 


tom-tom of his heart, as a musician knows an often-played symphony. 

He had made himself a health chart, marking A on his sermon if he 
could write it on Monday morning, A over 2 if Monday evening. Tuesday 
morning was B, and evening B over 2; and so on to C, D, E, F. He 
wanted to make a B this week and sat for over an hour at his desk wait- 
ing for it to come. But the headache got worse and the thought of the 
fugitive kept blocking all responses. 

He got up and walked out into the streets on another search. His parish 
was the whole of Boston. There were more than six thousand people on its 
rolls and he was the only preacher of his kind there. He started at the 
Courthouse, which was set plumb in the center of the old part of town, 
the hub from which spokes reached up to the grass of the Common, the 
gentlefolk's stately homes on Tremont Street and its tributary nooks and 
courts full of old elms and pleasant gardens, the banks and countinghouses 
of State Street with the wharves and sea at the end, the Negro district on 
the far side of Beacon Hill, the merchants' shops and newspaper offices 
along Washington Street and the slums and alleys of Ann Street, Fort 
Hill and the old North End. He knew them all and had friends, enemies 
and parishioners at the ends, the middle, the hub and at the arching cir- 
cumference of all the spokes. 

He talked to his wife's cousin, old John Augustus, who kept a school 
for the newsboys and street urchins on the Courthouse steps. He stopped 
in at the Hospital and the Charity House, around back of the kitchen of 
the Revere House, the American House and the new hotel another Mr. 
Parker had just opened on School Street. He questioned bootblacks and 
lawyers' clerks, reporters and truckmen, butchers and greengrocers in the 
market. Garrison wasn't at the Anti-Slavery Office on Cornhill, but a man 
named Austin Bearse told him that they were expecting a boy called Bar- 
nado from the South, but he was going right through to Bath and he was 
from Carolina. 

He was upset because a spy in the Courthouse, a man with fine hand- 
writing, was away in New Hampshire. This was the person who usually 
made out the warrants for the fugitives and he always reported it in good 
time to the Anti-Slavery Office. 

At last he started home, his day a failure. He had thought of going to 
see Coffin Pitts but did not for two reasons. First, he and some others had 
lent Pitts the money to set up his shop and he didn't want to embarrass 
the debtor by going in there. He had heard Coffin was having a hard time 
with his business. And secondly, Pitts was a deacon at Mr. Grimes's 
church and he had half-promised his colleague to hold up the alarms be- 


fore the dedication of the new church. When he got home again his head- 
ache had settled down for a run and he began to think he might have to 
write O on the blank pages waiting for the sermon. This meant nothing 
at all done. The only thing he could think of was how many people in 
Boston had never heard of Colonel Suttle of Falmouth in Virginia. 

When the late dusk of May came to the shop, Coffin Pitts put the finish- 
ing touches on the claw-hammer coat he was to wear to the dedication of 
the new church of Mr. Grimes. Coffin was the Senior Deacon. Tony was 
to be received into the church as the first new member and Coffin was 
to be his sponsor. This put Coffin in a happy mood. There were not many 
occasions of honor and distinction for an elderly colored man in the Athens 
of America. 

After he had carefully folded his fine coat over his arm he turned to go. 
Tony stood quietly by him as he locked up but when he went to walk 
up Brattle Street, on his way home, Tony lagged behind in a doubtful, 
disconcerting way. 

— Come on, son, said Coffin. — We've got to git home and then go over 
to the church and help Mr. Grimes. 

— I don't think I'll go over tonight, Mr. Pitts, Tony said. 

— But we promised, son. You gotta find out about the ceremony. To- 
morrow night's the dedication. Tomorrow night you're gonna be tooken 
in. Now, come on, son. 

— I don't want to, Mr. Pitts. I want to go fer a walk jes' now. He 
turned and began to walk slowly in the other direction. Coffin could see 
that he had troubles on his mind so he walked after him and then beside 
him. Nothing was said but Coffin could feel Tony's travail. Tony kept 
walking evenly toward the sea. Coffin knew by the way he shortened his 
pace to the old man's gait that he wanted company. And he knew by the 
way he headed for the hush of the Harbor that he wanted quiet for a 

When they got to the end of Long Wharf, Tony sat on the edge, dan- 
gling his legs, and Coffin sat beside him. The sun was sinking behind 
them and when the darkness began to threaten the remaining light, Tony 
took a letter from his pocket. — Mr. Pitts, he said, — I don't think I'll be 
able to oblige you and Mr. Grimes tomorrow night. 

— You mean you ain't goin' to join the church? 

— That's right, Deacon Pitts. I can't join. 

— But I thought you wrote down home fer a transfer? 


— So I did, Deacon Pitts, and I can't join on account of it. 

Coffin Pitts looked old and helpless. He climbed to his feet hunched 
and stiff like the old man that he was, trying to kick the kinks out of his 
legs. He half-stumbled in a little circle over the rough and splintered 
boards of the wharf. He came back to Tony. His voice was trembling and 
his eyes tearful. He laid his hand on Tony's head. 

— But I told everybody you was joinin' the church. I was to have the 
honor of bringing in the first. Others had sons and daughters to give to 
the Lord but me, a childless old man, was to have the honor of bringing 
in the first to the new church. Why can't you join, son? 

— I wrote to my pastor back home, Mr. Pitts, like I said, and this is what 
came back. . . . He read the letter in a halting way, stumbling over some 
of the words . . . 

The Church of Jesus Christ, at Union, Fauquier County, Virginia 

to all whom it may concern! 

Whereas, Anthony Burns, a member of this church, has made applica- 
tion to us by a letter to our pastor, for a letter of dismission in fellowship, 
in order that he might unite with another church of the same faith and 
order; and whereas it has been established before us that Anthony Burns 
absconded from the service of his master, thereby disobeyed both the law 
of God and man: Resolved, unanimously, that he be excommunicated 
from the communion and fellowship of this church. 

Coffin Pitts listened sadly. When Tony had finished, he looked up at 
him. Coffin tried to find words of comfort. — We'll show it to Reverend 
Grimes. I don't think he'll show it no mind. 

Tony shook his head sadly. — I can't be received in now. It wouldn't 
be right. Without the letter, it would be a lie. With the letter, it would 
be a shame. It would be a shame to me to show this letter. 

The sun went and the moon touched the water and up the path glided 
the yacht Flirt from Hingham. Behind it, its foul smoke blotting out the 
light, came the steamer John Taylor, newly chartered by the government 
of the United States for the rendition of Anthony Burns. 




On the third day, counting back to the time when the dark prey flushed 
the hunters, Ben Hallett spent the forenoon at home. He could have sat 
quietly at the curved window of his parlor, watching the crisp grass and 
the dancing leaves dappling the soft stone of little gray Aristides on his 
perch in the green oval of Louisburg Square. He had a son to send to the 
office and do his work for him. But after a quick glance out to see that the 
papery undersides of the leaves were showing their affidavits of rain, he 
went up the curving stairs to the back-room study. 

There he turned over many of his lawbooks, seeking in the cool abstract 
maze of legal nomenclature a way to lose the sanguineous scent of the 
huntsman from his hands. 

At the office he would have to hear about the truckmen that were hired; 
their names and the extent of their fidelity to the Party, and how much 
more it would cost to have them testify at the trial for the benefit of Colonel 
Suttle. It was better, knowing the sort they would be, to think of them as 
the faceless posse comitatus. And it wasn't to be a trial but an examination. 
They weren't going to seize a struggling black man with anguished eyes 
but only a man who owed service. . . . A man who owes service is like 
a bankrupt or a debtor. The United States Marshal will serve a warrant 
on the man who owes service and he will appear before the United States 
Commissioner . . . who happens to be the well-respected Judge of Pro- 
bate for Suffolk County. . . . After being properly identified by the man 
to whom he owes service and labor, he will be rendei'ed into his custody. 

He turned page after page, Civil Action, Torts, Liens, Hypothecation, 
quasi-contracts, garnishee; it was easy to lose a man there. 

When he finally got down to the office he found just the thing he had 
tried to avoid. A bitter argument was going on between Watson Freeman, 
Riley and Butman. Freeman was standing in the middle of the carpet with 
his eyes closed and his jaw set, resisting Butman. 


— Queeny says he's a big brute of a man, Asa Butman argued. — He's 
seen him and the man's got a broken hand now, he says, from knocking 
somebody around. Queeny says it humps up where he must have hit some- 
one so hard he knocked his knuckle clear back to the wrist. 

Watson turned to Ben with relief. — They want to make a turkey 
shoot out of this, he whined. — We haven't got the wherewithal to hire 
every broken-down truckman that votes the ticket. 

— The Marshal is right, Ben said. — This is a civil case. We have an 
individual here that owes service. He has evidently assumed that by re- 
moving himself from the neighborhood of his . . . from the person to 
whom he owes service, he cancels his obligations. Nothing of the sort. 
This man is bound by contract to the other man. The contract is the Con- 
stitution of the United States and is in force wherever the flag is flown. 
We three are likewise bound by this contract because of our oath of office. 
We owe service as well. We are going to do our duty in a calm and con- 
fident way. No rowdies, Butman. No bowie knives or gin bottles. Serve 
the papers on the man and bring him here. And don't attract any attention. 

Watson went to his desk with a list of recruits that Asa had given him. 
He began to cross out names here and there. With a sly glance at Butman, 
who stood angrily beside him, he drew a heavy line through some Kellys, 
Careys and MacCarthys. He left Benjamin True, Caleb Page, Moses Clark, 
John Coolidge and Obed Leighton. 

These were the first to go on the Marshal's rolls. There were many 
more added later, men of flesh and blood and faces and hands and feet. 
To say that this one had such a beard and that one stuttered and he had 
a daughter that was beautiful and Obed was better to his horses than to 
his family would be a waste of time. In the end they were still just names 
and these two words and an initial was all there was about them to take 
note of and then forget. But they had to be there like the nameless men 
who dug the grave for Ophelia and the sailors who rowed the boat across 
the Delaware. They had to be there but they were not singly decisive. 
Asa was to take along five men : True, Page, Clark, Coolidge and Leigh- 
ton, but it could have been any five hirelings with no difference between 
them but their names. 

Pat Riley tugged Ben timidly by the sleeve. — Will you let me make up 
me own list if I'm to guard the man in the room upstairs till morning? 

Ben turned and looked glumly at him, ready with a refusal. 

Riley held up a pleading hand and clawed at his stubbly chin with the 
other. — What if the niggers come up in the room again, like they did 
when we had Shadrach there? I was all alone then, as dignified as you 

3 6 

please with me sword lying on the table. Then a whole swarm of them 
came up them stairs in the hall. Before I could take up me sword laying 
there on the table they had gobbled up the nigger and walked him off. 
They even took me sword. An old one helped himself to it and then they 
drove the man off in a hack. 

— The Marshal and I are not interested in the shortcomings of our 
predecessors, Ben said. Then he thought for a moment and said, — Well 
boys, I'm inclined to think I should give you your heads in this thing. 
You all know what this means. This is the third case of its kind since the 
law was passed in '50. One went back, one escaped and Pat lost his sword. 
This time he'll lose his job and so will the rest of us if you botch it. I'm 
not going to chart this thing for you any more. Just do your work, use 
your heads, and there'll be nothing to it. But if you slip up, all hell will 
break loose. I don't have to tell you that. 

Asa put on his hat. His eyes were dancing with excitement. — You can 
trust me, Ben. I'll take the five gawkies over to Pete Brigham's, and when 
the time comes, we'll nab the blackbird as cute as a cat. 

He left with no ill feeling toward the Marshal. He could get all the 
men he wanted to do the job for a free ale or two over at Brigham's. But 
he would have to be smart and not get Ben riled up at him. Two cronies, 
and the five would do it fine. 

Within the dim confines of the cluttered shop on Brattle Street Tony 
did his best to avoid Coffin Pitts. The old man thought sure Tony would 
consider and come with him to the dedication after all. He held his tongue 
on the matter and only sent a long glance, full of sorrow contending with 
hope, at Tony in the infrequent moments during the day when they were 
face to face. Tony was unusually heavy in mood and silent but Coffin felt 
sure that when he locked up the shop and started home to prepare for the 
ceremony, Tony would come to. The very desolation of the other man's 
mood gave him room for hope. It was not the gloom of conviction and 
decision, but the dank cloud of doubt. When the time came to lock up, 
Tony stood for a moment at the door. Coffin turned for a final appeal. 
— Why don't you come, son? he asked. 

Tony, who had been hardening his heart all day against this appeal, 
turned and sauntered aimlessly down the street. Coffin walked up to Court 
Square and then down toward Hanover Street. Butman, standing in the 
doorway across from the shop, was much disturbed by this. He had 
figured Tony would go with Coffin as he had every other night. If Tony 


continued he would have to accost him alone. Just as he had made up his 
mind to do this, Tony turned around and began to follow Deacon Pitts. 

Butman, still walking on the other side, tried to head him off. Tony 
began to walk faster and was almost within hailing distance of the old 
man when some roughs coming out of Brigham's shouldered Coffin into 
the gutter. They were drunk and loud and after this encounter, Cof- 
fin walked quickly into the dusk out of hailing distance. Coffin liked to 
be among his own when darkness came. 

Butman was then able to head Tony off outside the saloon. — Stop, old 
boy, he said, putting his hand on Tony's shoulder. 

— What do you want? said Tony. 

— You look like the man that broke into the silversmith's last night and 
stole a teapot. 

— I never stole nothin' in my life. 

— That ain't what the silversmith says. Let's go down to the Court- 

Butman tightened his hold on Tony's arm. 

Tony abruptly broke away, whirled around and lifted his hand to his 
mouth, intending to hail Coffin, deep in the dusk ahead of him. Butman 
gestured in panic to his deputies and they ran to him and with the deft- 
ness of experienced pallbearers took Tony's body up off the ground and 
bore him shoulder high down Court Square to the Courthouse. 

At the side door they set him down for a moment's rest, then — three at 
a side, at the feet, the upper thighs and shoulders — they lifted him again 
and brought him up two flights of stairs to the jury room on the third 
floor that had been hired by the United States government. 

Tony had not struggled during this. In fact he had stiffened his body 
when they carried him in an involuntary attempt to preserve some dignity, 
and looked not unlike some wounded hero being borne from the field. 
Marshal Freeman felt obliged to make some show of his office and stood 
in the doorway downstairs with his sword in his hand. But it was dark 
there and he held the weapon furtively and self-consciously close to his 

When Tony was set down he looked around for the jeweler. But the 
only other person there was Pat Riley, who sat clutching his sword of 
office with both hands, remembering the last time they had held a fugitive 
in this room. 

Butman swung the door shut and Tony saw that it had been fitted with 
a set of iron bars. The six deputies stood at the door. 

— Where's the silversmith ? Tony said. 


— Where the hell is that jeweler? Butman asked the guards in broadly 
feigned impatience. They laughed. — How about that, Pat? he asked 

The barred door, the mongrel dress of the deputies, the bored guilt of 
Pat Riley and the robust, tigerish self-satisfaction of Butman as he stood 
grinning at him, spoke to Tony at last and he knew he had been 

His first feeling was one of deep disgrace and not anger. The fear of 
being taken back to Virginia and beaten was there, but not as much, not 
one tenth as much as the deep shame of being known as a slave. He sat 
slowly in a chair, holding his belly, burning hot inside. His mind specu- 
lated about the process of his capture. Then he remembered the letter to 
his pastor in Fauquier County. It must have been given to Suttle and Suttle 
was here to reclaim him. 

In about twenty minutes, the Marshal came in with Colonel Suttle and 
William Brent. The Colonel paused at the door dramatically, expecting 
Tony to run through the formal attitude of a captured felon . . . the star- 
tled look, the wild rush, the hoarsely shouted denials and the wild rolling 
of the eyeballs with the sweat running from a twisted brow. 

But Tony sat quietly, looking almost dispassionately at the slave hunters. 
The Colonel, feeling that some drama was needed to fix the scene, stepped 
over to him and took off his hat and bowed. — How do you do, Mr. Burns, 
he said sarcastically. — Why did you run away from me ? 

Tony answered in a low, composed voice, — I fell asleep on the vessel 
where I worked and before I woke up she set sail and carried me ofT. 

The Colonel sat beside him, sensing Tony's resignation. — Haven't 
I always treated you well, Tony? Haven't I always given you money when 
you asked for it ? 

— You always gave me twelve and a half cents a year. 

The guards smiled broadly at this. One snickered audibly and the 
Colonel got testily to his feet. — I'm not makin' you no promises and I'm 
not makin* you no threats but I'm here to take you back. 

He joined Brent at the door. As they left, Watson said stupidly, — Is 
that the man ? The Colonel nodded a complacent affirmation. 

The Marshal and Riley followed them and Tony was alone with But- 
man and the deputies. They stood looking intently at Tony, expecting him 
to say or do something. The funnybone of Misters True, Page, Clark, 
Coolidge and Leighton had been pleasantly struck by the light irony of his 
last remark. Tony spoke next to Butman. — I thought you arrested me 
for stealing? 


— Huh, said Butman, — I was afraid of a mob. I could have taken you 
when you left the store. I was standing right across the street. 

— You never would have caught me if I knew. 

— I would have shot you down, boasted Butman. He pointed his finger 
at Tony, bringing his thumb down like a gun hammer. — But I didn't 
want to spoil your pelt. They're gonna skin you alive. 

He drew a half-smoked cigar from his pocket, set it cold in his mouth 
and swaggered off down the corridor. 

— Asa's a pretty tough old bird, said Caleb Page as he shut and barred 
the door. 

— He wasn't tough enough for the last darky he took. That one left a 
knife in his brisket, said Leighton. 

— What ever happened to that one, I disremember. 

— Oh, they had a rod in soak for him, Leighton said, settling himself 
in the nearest chair. — He's a dead duck, they say. Breathed out his last. 

— That's because he resisted, said Caleb, looking at Tony in a know- 
ing way. As Tony looked back at him, Caleb sealed his advice with a 
friendly wink. 

These watchers and warders were not unfriendly at all. And when a 
generous collation of whisky, oysters and ham, procured at this late hour 
at great expense, was sent up to the room by the courtesy of Colonel Suttle, 
Tony was invited to participate with the others on an equal basis and 
urged without snobbery to have a swig from the common bottle. When 
he refused, he injured the feelings of Moses }. Clark, who said that there 
was no need of him to make a damned fool of himself. 

Tony sat like a graven image in his chair. He saw himself in the little 
Church of Jesus Christ, Baptist, back home . . . rising from his pew just 
after the prayer and saying to the startled minister, — I saw you when you 
felt the spirit and when you kneeled to pray. I joined my tears with yours 
over the thief and the sinner. How can you cast me out and deny me to 
God's Brotherhood and keep in the man who stole me from my mother's 
arms ? How could you betray me ? 

There is no one to trust, he thought. . . . And he covered the flame of 
his life and let the fires of intelligence and awareness die out of his eyes. 
He sat like a man under a spell, all through the night, withdrawn and not 
opening to anyone. Trust no one, not even yourself. He used an ancient, 
semiconscious sorcery of his race to bring on a catalepsis and sat as 
securely as a turtle drawn deep in his heavy shell. 

4 o 



This was the day the battle was joined. The night before, Coffin had gone 
alone to the dedication of the new church. He had joined with thanksgiv- 
ing in the prayers and had sung with the rest the songs about the Lamb, 
and the roll that was called up yonder, and Greenland's icy mountains, 
and bringing in the sheaves. But Tony wasn't there and he was glad to 
get away from the rejoicing at last and go back home and see how the boy 
was feeling. To a man as old as Deacon Pitts every man under fifty was a 
boy and a son. 

He went into his kitchen, where Tony slept on a cot behind the stove, 
and found the bed undisturbed. He walked fearfully back to the shop 
and lit a candle and looked among the old clothes. He squeezed the 
empty arms and patted the flat backs of the worn-out coats on the rack, 
thinking in his panic that Tony might be hiding from him in a dark 
corner or under the rags. In his loneliness he talked to the cat about it. 
— Where's Tony, kitty-cat? he said, in his old man's quaver. — Find 
Tony, kitty. 

He didn't go back to the church. He went as fast as his legs would take 
him up Washington Street to Essex and then down to Exeter Place. But 
as he rounded the corner he saw the gas lights being turned out in the 
high study, and Parker found him shivering on the doorstep the next day 
when he stuck out his head to get a taste of the morning. 

Parker helped the old man into the kitchen and made him some cofTee. 
He didn't scold him for not waking him up in the night. He would have 
if he hadn't known that Coffin Pitts was perhaps the most painfully cour- 
teous man in Boston. 

And when Coffin told him of the disappearance of Tony, he blessed him 
for breaking the clot of uncertainty he had carried in his head for the last 
three days. He exuded so much confidence and sunny determination that 
Coffin laid down his burden and began to doze ofT in his chair. Parker put 


him to sleep on the sofa in the parlor and started oil for the Courthouse. 
His indignation raced through his veins like joy. 

The rabble posse were finishing up the remnants of their refreshments 
and stumbling haggardly about, putting the jury room to rights. They had 
heaped up their empty bottles and swill on the table when Judge Loring 
peeked in, curious about the progress of the event. The stench of stale 
smoke, whisky, of bodies cased in dirty clothes through the sweatings of 
a May night, of old oysters, mustard and onions nearly felled him. He 
scurried downstairs to the Circuit courtroom, swallowing his vomit. 

Butman hurriedly opened the windows and sent the guards out to relieve 
themselves and wash up a little. Marshal Freeman arrived with Ben Hal- 
lett. Ben was awed at the appearance of Tony, wrapped in somber brutish- 
ness. Freeman snapped angrily at Butman, — Clean this mess out of here. 

Butman sullenly began to gather up the debris on the table. Ben looked 
around in wonder. — How do you do it, Watson ? This is a Courthouse. 
You use it for a jail, a boozing joint and a dance hall. 

— It's paid for. We got a lease, said Watson. — Hurry up, Asa. Judge 
Loring might come up to see the prisoner. I don't want him to see this 
place looking like a pigsty. 

When Butman started to walk out the door with a handful of bottles 
Ben swung around and spoke nervously. — Good God, Watson, are we 
to be left alone with this prisoner? 

— Put the irons on him, Asa, Watson said. 

Butman dropped the bottles with an angry clatter and roughly snapped 
a set of handcuffs on Tony's unresisting wrists. He picked up the bottles 
again and shuffled out. Watson slammed the door behind him. 

— This is a mess, Watson, said Ben, wrinkling his nose in disgust. 
— WeVe got to get it over with. The whole atmosphere is abhorrent. 

Watson went gloomily over to the window and leaned out. 

Ben stood before Tony, studying him. — I suppose you're pretty bitter 
against us. 

Tony did not even raise his eyes above the heavy gold chain on Ben's 
flowered vest. He said nothing. 

— You seem to be taking it calmly enough. That's very wise. We have 
nothing against you, but the law must be carried out. Colonel Suttle is 
disposed to forgive you for the wrong you have done him and all the ex- 
pense you have put him to. I have an idea you will be purchased and set 


Still no response from the captive. Ben crossed over to Watson and 
looked out of the window with him. In the yard the guards were stagger- 
ing around the pump, holding their heads under and splashing one an- 
other like schoolboys. Ben turned back to Tony. — Remember, right now 
we have nothing against you. Colonel Suttle says you're a truthful man 
and have never given trouble before. I should say, up to this point you 
have been a credit to yo^ir race. How did you happen to get into this 
mess ? 

Tony shook his head sadly. Trouble and betrayal. He had never known 
betrayal before, but trouble ... he was born to it. 

Hallett took the movement for a sign of submission and guilt. He pat- 
ted him on the head with a good-dog gesture. — You just let us get this 
over quietly and I'll give a hundred dollars out of my own pocket for your 

Parker was near the end of Washington Street when he ran into a mem- 
ber of the Vigilantes' legal committee. He was Charles Mayo Ellis, who 
had just arrived from his home in Roxbury. Parker sent him over to the 
Courthouse, to investigate and hold the fort, while he got Richard Henry 
Dana, their leading attorney. He stopped a small boy and sent him to the 
railway depot at Haymarket to find Wendell Phillips, who he knew was 
scheduled to address a morning meeting of the Lynn Ladies' Anti-Slavery 
Society that day. Then he started for Dana's office, hoping that Dana had 
risen at his customary early hour. Dana was at that very moment being 
told by one of the Courthouse hangers-on that a slave had been taken. 

The first one to see Tony after he had been brought, still in irons, down 
to the Circuit courtroom, and sat in the prisoner's box, was the Reverend 
Mr. Grimes. Grimes had approached the prisoner timidly, as he was 
flanked on both sides by armed men, and asked him if he needed help. 
He was abashed by Tony's indifference to him and walked hesitantly to 
the rear of the courtroom and sat down, determined to observe the affair 
in spite of the baleful looks of Butman, who asked Ben Hallett for permis- 
sion to throw him out. 

Ben wisely demurred, feeling it was safer to have Grimes where he could 
be watched instead of in the street, stirring up trouble. — Don't throw him 
out, you fool. Keep him in here by force if you have to. 

When Suttle arrived with Billy Brent and his counselors, Seth Thomas 
and Mr. Kerr, he spoke once again to Tony. — I'm makin* no promises, 
Tony, and I'm makin' no threats. 


They sat within the bar. Hallett took a seat at the clerk's table. Riley, 
prowling around the square in the early morning, had picked up six more 
roustabouts, homeless as tomcats, sent them to the jury room to breakfast 
on whisky and scraps, and then deputized them. — I've doubled the 
guard, he told Ben nervously as his new boys stumbled in. 

— You mean they're twice as bad? said Ben with a disgusted look. Riley 
smiled feebly back and waved the reinforcements over to seats in the jury 

Ben could not take his eyes off Tony as he sat in the prisoner's chair. He 
asked Watson if they had given him laudanum or some other sleeping 
potion to keep him quiet. 

— I don't give a tinker's damn if they slugged him over the head as long 
as he keeps his mouth shut, Watson said. 

Watson was more worried at this point about Seth Thomas, Colonel 
Suttle's lawyer. Thomas was a long-winded man, ornamenting his speech 
and his person was his greatest joy. He was a man of large circumference, 
shaped like a decanter turned upside down. He wore the daintiest of shoes 
on his tiny feet. His white trousers were tapered skin-tight to the ankles, 
and the straps passing under his arches were drawn taut. His coat was fine 
white linen and his stock was of heavy black silk. The coat was cut away 
sharply and his watch chain, heavily chased, seemed to reach halfway 
around him with his waistcoat pockets set more at his side than at his 
stomach. He didn't want the rotunda of his magnificent belly lumped with 
watches and such. His hair was white and cut in long bangs on his fore- 
head and came around his head in an even circumference, and when he 
shook his head in a flight of oratory the fluffy strands danced like a big 
white flower in the wind. He stood like a dancer, his toe constantly mak- 
ing a point in front of him. 

This was all deplored by Marshal Watson Freeman, who had watched 
his performances many times. Watson had a hack waiting outside for the 
transport of the prisoner. The steamer was ready at the wharf, the fires 
were up, and if this thing took more than fifteen or twenty minutes his 
schedule would be shattered to bits. 

Suttle admired his lawyer but thought he looked rather expensive for the 
job at hand. Two lawyers . . . Mr. Thomas had his junior, Mr. Kerr, 
there with him. But Mr. Kerr didn't look very expensive. The Colonel 
hoped that Mr. Kerr was just an apprentice and wouldn't even be men- 
tioned in the bill. 

They all had to wait for the Judge. The Colonel began to fret. — Where's 
the Judge ? Do we have to wait on him like this ? 


Ben tried to soothe him with a recital of the details required to make 
this short hearing bear fruit. — And I'm sure almost nothing will ap- 
pear in the papers about it. That's why I'm telling you all this. When you 
get home it'll be a nice yarn to entertain your friends. 

— Why ain't there goin' to be nothin' in the papers? demanded the 
Colonel angrily. — My friends put up considerable money for this case and 
they want it to be noticed. I intend to put a puff in the Richmond Examiner 
about it. 

— Of course, Ben said. — After it has been carried out there'll be a 
complete report in the Post. But now we want the praise and not the 
blame, don't we, Colonel? 

The Colonel looked up just then and saw a short, distinguished-looking 
man standing in the doorway. His hair was curly and worn long, touching 
his broad shoulders. He smiled at the Colonel and started to come in. The 
Colonel stood up. He took him for a judge. He had the dignity of a judge, 
although there was no gray in his hair and his face had the shallow, fleet- 
ing lines of a man in his late thirties. He looked like a Southern judge, 
thought the Colonel approvingly, a cavalier sort of judge, not like old 

— Sit down, said Ben. — It's Richard Dana. God help us. 

The Colonel sat. Ben slumped low in his chair as Dana walked by. 

— Are you in trouble ? Dana asked Tony. — Have you got a lawyer ? 
Tony didn't answer him. Suttle partly rose again to fix Tony with a 

threatening look. 

Dana saw the man was afraid. — You don't have to sit here without 
defense. I want to offer my services. I heard outside that you have been 
held here all night. It won't cost you anything. 

Tony looked fully at him. The man was honest-looking and inspired 
trust. He dropped his eyes, trying to get back into his trance. But the man 
wouldn't go away. He stood there, silently holding the question. — It's no 
use, Tony mumbled. — I spoke to them. They know me. 

— But it's got to be proved by law, Dana said. — They must have 
papers to bring you back, and if there's a mistake in them we might get 
you off. Do you want to go back? 

— I don't want no more trouble. I don't want it no worse. 

Dana looked around the courtroom. There were a dozen guards there 
and three lawyers, the United States Marshal and the United States Attor- 
ney. The man had been threatened. Now what was best for him? he won- 
dered. If there was a clear case here, clear identification and an admission 
by the prisoner, should he resist as Thomas Sims had and be taken back 


anyway and beaten to death? This prisoner wasn't the man Sims was 
either, by a long shot. He looked again at the prisoner, noted the scar 
on his cheek and his broken hand, mementos of an old resistance and a 
caution against a new one. He turned slowly and walked out of the court- 

The smiles of relief that came at his exit were checked as the Judge 
came in. The Marshal acted as bailiff and called out, — The court, every- 
body, rise. 

Judge Loring waved them to their seats and fixed an angry glance at 
the jury box. — I didn't understand we were to have a jury on this case, 

— That's my posse comitatus, said Watson, apologetically. 

— Then they can stand at the back, said the Judge. One of the guards 
tried to get up but, being both sleepy and drunken, he slumped back into 
his chair. The Judge winced. — Very well, let them sit there for the mo- 

— Thank you, your Honor, said Watson gratefully. — We are handling 
this case under extreme difficulties. 

— So it would seem, said the Judge. — Is that the defendant in the 

— Yes, your Honor, said the Marshal. 

— And the claimant or his agent? 

— Both here, your Honor. 

— Then let us proceed. As a United States Commissioner, my duties 
are executive rather than judicial, and I intend to make this hearing 
more of an inquiry than a formal court proceeding. The question submit- 
ted is whether I shall award to the claimant, Charles F. Suttle, a certificate 
authorizing him to take back to Virginia the respondent, Anthony Burns, 
whom he claims as owing him service and labor. The facts to be proved 
are three. One: that Anthony Burns was his slave, by the law of Virginia. 
Two: that Anthony Burns escaped from slavery in Virginia. Three: that 
the prisoner is the Anthony Burns in question. If the claimant's counsel 
can prove these three points, I am empowered by this hearing to give a 
certificate allowing the immediate rendition of the respondent. 

Mr. Kerr, the claimant's junior counsel, addressed the court. In a light 
tone, but with seemly gravity, he began to read a long document drawn 
up from the records of the Virginia court. It sounded odd in Boston, 

4 6 

Parker found Dana sulking in his office. He told Parker he had seen the 
prisoner a moment before. He paced up and down the room, his anger 

— What's going to become of him? Parker asked, in pretended inno- 

— I suppose he's to be sent back. 

— Where is he now? 

— In the prisoner's box in the courtroom on the first floor. 

— Has he counsel? 

— Then what are we doing here ? Parker started for the door. 

— I tried that, Dana said. — I offered to defend him but he didn't 
want me. He acted as though he wanted to go back. 

— Under terror, of course. But we can reassure him. 

— I don't know if we can. He's a miserable object, weak in mind and 
body. He had apparently made some statement to incriminate himself. 
There's no fight in him. He's pretty badly scarred from some old resist- 
ance. Mentally too, I suppose. 

— As a lamb before his shearers, he opened not his mouth. . . . All the 
more reason why we should help him. 

— As we helped Sims, I suppose, sending him back to his death? Let 
us consider our own responsibilities in this matter. The poor fellow ob- 
viously wants to go back in peace. He's made some reconciliation w 7 ith his 
master and thinks it's best not to resist. Should we make trouble for him ? 

— Let's find out more about him. He's probably been in duress all night 
with inquisitors about him. This isn't the first time you've seen a prisoner 
under duress. Did you turn your back on all of them? 

— Very well. But I don't think it will help any. 

Charles Mayo Ellis entered the courtroom through the passage and door 
reserved for lawyers and officers of the court. He saw the roughs lounging 
in the jury box, the little group of accusers dominated by the bulk of Ben 
Hallett and sitting directly under the judge's bench. Back of the railed- 
off rectangle of the bar, sitting alone on one of the spectators' bare benches, 
was Mr. Grimes. The room was dark with the curtains drawn against the 
morning sun. Mr. Grimes was indistinct in the gloom. He had his hands 
submissively folded in front of him. He did not look up as Ellis stepped in. 

Ellis at once felt the off-balance there, the tight clump of hunters, the 
deputies moving and shifting in their chairs, wrinkling their foreheads and 


jaws in soil asides, looking around with no concentration on the prey like 
dogs which, having run their quarry to earth, scratch themselves, paw the 
ground, shake their ears and shoulders and growl at one another in ac- 
knowledgment of the job completed. Their masters — Ben, the Colonel 
and the others — were tense, looking from their papers to the Negro in 
the prisoner's chair and then to the Judge, the master of the hunt. The 
whole party, with the concentration of legal ammunition, the relaxed but 
alertable force of the deputies, weighed heavily against the slight presence 
of Mr. Grimes sitting beyond the pale, on the silent side of the bar. 

This was enough for Ellis's righteous anger. He began the case by losing 
his temper. He only half listened to Mr. Kerr, who was reading with great 
speed, bent on getting through the Virginia records in the shortest time 

Kerr now was at the description of the man named in the transcript: 
— Said Anthony Burns is a man of dar\ complexion, about six feet high, 
with a scar on one of his chee\s and also a scar on the bac\ of his right 
hand and about twenty-three or twenty-four years of age. . . . 

Ellis took another step into the courtroom. He had new boots on and 
they squeaked. Kerr looked around at him startled. Ellis was a dark man 
of the same size, but ten years older than the description, with long side- 
burns climbing down his swarthy cheeks. He could have shaved them and 
made another likeness, showing a scar below his left cheekbone where a 
skate had pierced it when he was a boy. Ellis put his hand to his face and 
tugged at his whiskers, holding Kerr's eyes captive. 

Kerr turned back to the record and raised his voice to finish the tran- 
script : — It is therefore ordered, in pursuance of an Act of Congress . . . 

The man in the dock is a full-blooded Negro, thought Kerr. . . . Why 
didn't they say so? He's as black as coal and has kinky hair. His lips are 
thick and almost purple, he has his race stamped all over him. Why do 
they have to affect such nicety in the description? Why are they playing 
it down so much? Ellis sees the weakness of it. Up here a Negro is a 
Negro. Down there he is a dark-complected man and more, a son, a 
brother, a cousin, nephew ... all these are admitted relationships. And 
there are the unadmitted ones, the mothers, the fathers. They are there too. 

Kerr could not resist another look at Ellis as he laid down the Virginia 
record and reached for the other papers. He was appalled to see that Ellis 
had been joined by Theodore Parker and Richard Dana. Judge Loring's 
warrant said without equivocation, Negro man, he noted, as he began to 
read it out. 

The Judge saw them too. He nodded briefly and turned back to attend 

4 8 

Kerr's reading. But he strained his ears in their direction, trying to catch 
the drift of their remarks. 

— I thought you would never get here, Ellis said. — Let's put a stop to 

Dana shrugged his shoulders unhappily. — What can we do? The man 
wants to go back. I was here before and he refused me. 

— Let him refuse, said Ellis hotly. — We shouldn't let Hallett get away 
with this. Loring is sitting as a judge. The prisoner has no counsel. There's 
no jury. He is under guard and intimidated. 

Now the whole body of accusers turned to look at Ellis. His face was 
inflamed and his voice was loud. 

Dana raised a hand to quiet him. — Let's see what line the prosecution 
takes before we interfere. 

— Then it will be too late, said Ellis. — Loring can't do this. I'm not 
going to let him get away with it. 

Dana took Ellis by the arm. He tried to steer him out the door. — Let's 
not get violent. Loring is a just man, he's fair. 

— Then why doesn't he appoint counsel? 

Ellis shook of! Dana's hand. Dana looked over at the Judge. Loring 
flicked his fingers slightly at him, asking Dana to bide his time. — The 
man doesn't want counsel, said Dana. 

— What difference does that make to Loring? He's trying to settle this 
thing and have that man headed South within the hour. 

The balance shifted again. Wendell Phillips came in with Robert Mor- 
ris, a colored lawyer. Dana was standing stubbornly against Charles Ellis. 
Parker was looking sadly at the floor, waiting for the lawyers to hammer 
out their differences. 

Watson Freeman now took his place before the court and told of having 
carried out his duties, arresting the man and bringing him there for judg- 
ment. He was nervous and read his papers so shakily the guards laughed 
at him. 

Phillips asked Ellis what was happening. — I want to interfere, Ellis 
said, — but Dana wants to wait. 

Dana turned stiffly away. — I can't question Judge Loring's motives at 
this point. I've always considered him an amiable, humane and con- 
scientious gentleman. 

— He signed the warrant, didn't he? asked Parker, harshly. 

— That didn't commit him to render up the fugitive, Dana snapped. 

— Let's step out here and talk, said Phillips. — We don't want to have 
them see us fighting among ourselves. 


He steered them a few steps beyond the lawyers' door where they could 
quarrel privately and still hear Watson Freeman stumbling through his 
legal litany. 

Phillips turned sharply to Dana. He was his kind. They had both 
sipped from the silver spoon, both descended from rich and illustrious 
lines. They had a class bond, but here the likeness ended. Phillips was 
tall and fair, full of daring and eloquence. He took the most extreme of 
positions as if they were a mark of natural distinction that only an aris- 
tocrat could rightly claim. He mocked at property, protocol and the mean- 
ness of the law in a kingly way, careless of supporters and popularity, say- 
ing, My realm encompasses only ideas, conscience and common sense, and 
there I am the law. 

— You're coming in with us on this, aren't you, Richard? he said. 

— Yes, said Dana, — if there is anything a lawyer can do. But I'm not 
going to compromise the dignity of the court. This situation is as horrid 
to me as to you. But I hate it for what it does to the law as much as what 
it does to the man. I'm willing to interfere if the move is carried on as a 
legal process. I'll give the man the best legal defense possible. But I will 
not tolerate violence or disrespect for the court. 

— Good, good, said Parker. — It's about time somebody put that to a 
full test. Try it along this line and if we have to write it off the books as 
a failure, we can turn to something else. 

— Let's get back, said Ellis impatiently. 

— Why don't you give the Judge a chance? said Dana. — He might 
appoint counsel himself for the man. 

— Who'll he appoint, asked Parker scornfully, — Ben Hallett? If he 
does that he'll name some hanger-on. We don't want that. 

— Some bill collector like me, said Robert Morris. — I could defend 
him if they held the trial in the small-claims court. 

— Oh, we shall want you, Robert, said Phillips, afraid the Negro lawyer 
was offended at being passed over. — You'll be on the stafif. 

— You can have me to lean on, said Morris with a smile, — but you'd 
better have Richard Dana to smite. 

They stepped back into the courtroom. Parker and Ellis exchanged un- 
easy glances. Parker looked at Dana. Dana raised his eyebrows casually, 
blandly, signifying he was going to wait it out, give Loring a gentleman's 
chance, hope for the best. 

Suddenly Parker broke from the group and walked over to the prisoner. 
Everything stopped short. Watson stopped reading and slowly sat down. 
The prisoner's chair stood in a little enclosure, surrounded by a waist-high 


wainscoting. Parker peered over it at the Negro's hands and feet. 

— I thought so, he said indignantly to the Judge. 

He looked a moment at Tony, looked like a schoolteacher at a bad boy. 
— So you want to go back, he said, finally. 

Tony made a halting, negative movement, almost imperceptible. 

Parker looked again at the Judge, courting interference. The Judge held 
his tongue. Parker looked over at the Marshal and Hallett. They dropped 
their eyes under his defiance. 

He turned back to Tony again and said, somewhat truculently, — My 
name is Theodore Parker. Perhaps you've heard of me. 

— Yes sir. 

— Well, I'm not a lawyer. I'm a minister. I'm a minister at large to all 
fugitives. That makes you one of my parishioners and a member of my 
church. I think that gives me the right to talk to you, courtroom or no 

He looked over at the Judge again. The Judge swallowed hard, said 
nothing. Parker turned swiftly back to Tony. 

— I don't think I should let them take my parishioners away from me. 
If they go on like this Pll have no parish left and then whatll I do? Huhr 
He looked up at Tony at the end of the question. 

Life was beginning to come back into Tony's face. Tony tried to keep it 
down. He didn't want to feel any hope or power or courage. Worse than 
all these, this man made him feel elation. 

— If they take away my parish, continued Parker, — I'll have to arrange 
to exchange with some pulpit in Virginia and preach down there. Do you 
think I should do that? 

Tony, against his will, smiled a little. — No sir, he said. 

— Because I'd end up in a courtroom, wouldn't I? And there'd be a 
bunch of lazy dogs after the price on my head like the ones that are after 
yours. Am I right? 

The two guards beside Tony began to stir themselves. They looked up 
at Watson Freeman, wondering whether he was going to defend them. 
Freeman sat impassively. 

— Am I right? persisted Parker. 

— Yes . . . sir, came the answer slowly. 

— So I'd sit in the courtroom, and let them sentence me without opening 
my mouth to defend myself, wouldn't I? 

— No sir, said Tony loudly. Then he said it softly and with embarrass- 
ment. — No, sir. 

— Then why are you doing it ? You're as much of a man as I am. Sup- 


pose they passed a law saying all bald-headed men are slaves. Do you think 
I should submit? 

Tony looked around. He was very nervous now. This man was drawing 
him out too much. This was not the role he had decided upon. He was 
supposed to be ignorant, doltish. That was the best role, with the least said, 
the soonest mended. He had seen it all happen before, open your mouth 
and you're cooked. Keep still and even this will pass away. But the ques- 
tion was in the air and he was a man and he knew a thing or two. He 
was not as good a man as the preacher but he was a cut above the dirty 
white men who had tried to force him to eat and drink with them in his 

— That would be nonsensical, he said finally, in answer to the question. 

— Exactly. And it's just as nonsensical for you to submit because your 
skin is dark. I know you've had rough treatment lately but I can see that 
you're a pretty smart fellow. Can you read and write? 

— Yes sir. 

— Then defend yourself. I heard about your arrest not half an hour ago 
and now I see you have five or six friends in court. Look over there: 
there's Richard Dana, the best lawyer in Boston. And Robert Morris, he's 
a lawyer. And Wendell Phillips and Charles Ellis, two more of that breed 
of cats. And over there on the back bench is Mr. Grimes, one of my breed 
of cats. And behind us there's a thousand more. Will you let us defend you? 

Tony leaned forward in his chair, thinking to save Parker some em- 
barrassment. — They know me, sir. Mr. Suttle and Mr. Brent knows me. 
It's too late now and if I must go back I want to go as easy as I can. 

Parker had leaned to Tony, but when he heard the beginning of the 
confession, he pulled sharply away. Then he said in a loud voice, — Do 
you want us to defend you ? 

— You may do as you mind to, said Tony in a mutter. And when Parker 
came close to him to have him repeat it, the guards angrily pushed him 

Parker walked back to the group. He looked significantly at Dana. Still 
Dana shook his head, Not yet — Loring is weak and the law tyrannical. 
Let's not force him to take a stand. If we interrupt him now the most we 
could get is a postponement. If they put a witness on the stand and the 
witness makes a false statement we will have a case. 

Parker gave him a disgusted look and flung himself into a nearby chair. 
The others sat too. Ben Hallett was tickled at the dissension and kept pok- 
ing Watson happily under the table. 

Lawyer Thomas now rose to carry on the case. He had ignored the ac- 


tions of Parker, giving no visible signs of annoyance. He put on his spec- 
tacles, first brushing away his bangs, and called William Brent to the stand. 
Brent began by saying that he was a merchant from Richmond, Vir- 
ginia, and a close friend of Colonel Suttle. Mr. Thomas questioned him in 
a casual way, reading from a paper on which the answers were already 
placed in a preliminary rehearsal. 

— Do you know Anthony Burns? 

— I know Anthony Burns. 

— Do you see him now ? 

Brent followed instructions by looking carefully all over the courtroom 
and then turning fully on Tony. — Yes sir, he is the prisoner at the bar. 

— Will you state further what you know about him ? 

Brent paused a moment and then recited a little piece that he had learned 
with great difficulty. — He is the man referred to in the record. He is a 
slave. He was formerly owned by the Colonel's mother. Colonel Suttle has 
owned him for the past twelve or fourteen years. I hired him from Colonel 
Suttle in '46, '47 and 48. I paid Colonel Suttle for his services. 

There was a long sigh of relief from the Colonel when Brent got 
through with this. He had insisted that Billy could never learn it but Billy 
had and he was proud of him. That declaration could stand anywhere and 
that was all that had to be said. The man was identified by a reliable wit- 
ness and ownership proved by law. It was all over but the shouting. Brent 
started to get off the stand but Mr. Thomas waved him back. The Colonel 
turned to Ben. — Isn't that all Billy has to tell? That proves it. 

— We want to get something about the escape in the record, said Ben. 
— In case we find out who brought him here and want to prosecute. Just 
politics, Colonel, don't worry about it. 

— Oh, politics, said the Colonel, settling back. 

Thomas nodded at Ben and turned to the next question. — Do you 
know that he escaped? 

Brent looked puzzled. This was new material and he hadn't rehearsed 
it. He didn't know what this Yankee lawyer was aiming at here but he'd 
oblige him, within reason. 

— I knew he was missing from Richmond last March. 

— Have you seen the slave since? 

— Not until a day past, when I seen him with his master. 

— What happened on this occasion? 

The words master and slave had been falling like hammer blows on 
Parker and suddenly he couldn't stand any more of it. He leaped to his 


feet and looking straight ahead he said, — You're wrong, Dana. This man 
must be defended now and if you lawyers won't then I will. 

The Judge took up his gavel angrily, a little dazed by the abruptness 
of the attack. The Marshal's posse roused themselves and one or two stood 
up and assumed threatening poses. Thomas walked slowly to his seat and 
sat, waiting for order to prevail. 

It looked as if the Judge would clear the court. But it would be an idle 
gesture, Mr. Grimes being the only spectator. And if he put Parker out 
he knew the story would be all over town in a matter of minutes and all 
sorts of things would happen, mobs and explosions, sermons, too. And this 
business would drag on and get worse and worse. He saw Ben Hallett 
looking at him accusingly. He had to do something. 

— I pray your Honor's judgment, said Richard Dana, getting up. — I 
rise to address the court as amicus curiae, for I cannot say I am regularly 
of counsel for the person at the bar. Indeed, from the few words I have 
been able to hold with him, and from what I can learn from others who 
have talked with him, I am satisfied that he is not in a condition to de- 
termine whether he will have counsel or not, or whether or not he will 
submit a defense. 

The Judge laid down the gavel with relief. This was a fortunate inter- 
ruption. — Proceed, Mr. Dana, he said. 

— Under these circumstances, I pray your Honor's judgment that time 
be allowed to the prisoner to recover himself from the stupefaction of his 
sudden arrest and his novel and distressing situation, and have the oppor- 
tunity to consult with counsel and friends and determine what course he 
will pursue. 

This is where Mr. Thomas could earn his salt. He rose and came to the 
bench, shaking his head. — Your Honor, I must say I am duty bound to 
oppose this motion. The counsel himself says that the prisoner does not 
want counsel and does not want a defense. The only object of this delay is 
to try to induce him to resist the just claims that he is now ready to 
acknowledge. The delay will cause great inconvenience to my client and 
his witness, both of whom have come all the way from Virginia for this 
purpose. If it were suggested that the prisoner were insane, out of his mind 
and would be likely to recover soon, we would not object. As it is we do 

— Your point is well taken, said Loring to Thomas. He had just decided 
to deny further discussion by Dana when Ellis stood up and then Parker 
rose again. If he denied Dana a hearing then Ellis would speak, and 
Phillips and Morris, and then Parker would add his two cents' worth, and 


go out in the street and pick up half a dozen more troublemakers. It 
was a point he wanted to meditate a little. It would be hard to delay; 
at the rock bottom of the case stood the fact that all he had to do was 
drop the gavel and say, I consider the claimant entitled to the certificate. 
The papers were in order and the testimony of the witness full and 
complete. But . . . 

He looked at the three against the court. They were formidable. Dana 
was a good lawyer and respectable. Ellis was radical but he had a good 
reputation and was a sober and dignified advocate. Parker was hard to 
describe. The only thing that he could set against the finality of the Colo- 
nel's case was the conviction that Parker wanted him to do wrong, to 
make a mistake, to act hastily, show cruelty and make fuel for the hellish 
fires that Parker kept alive. 

— You may speak further, Mr. Dana, said the Judge. 

— The counsel for the claimant misapprehends my statement. I did not 
say the prisoner does not want counsel. I said he is not in a fit state to 
decide for himself what he wants to do. He has just been arrested and 
brought into this scene with this immense stake of freedom or slavery for 
life at issue, surrounded by strangers; and even if he should plead Guilty 
to the claim, the court ought not to receive the plea under such circum- 
stances. The claimant's counsel objects to a delay; he objects on the ground 
of inconvenience and expense to his client. I can assure him that he mis- 
takes the character of this tribunal by addressing to it such an argument. 
We have not come to the state yet in which we cannot weigh liberty 
against convenience and freedom against pecuniary expenses. I know this 
court too well to think that it would hurry a man off to slavery to accom- 
modate any man's personal convenience before he has time to recover his 
stupefied faculties and say whether he has a defense or not. Even without 
a suggestion from an amicus curiae, the court of its own motion would 
have seen to it that no such advantage was taken. 

During this graceful buttering-up of the Judge, Ellis squirmed in rage 
in his chair. — This is the wrong tack, he told Parker. — He is still leav- 
ing the matter up to Loring's good nature. 

He got to his feet; Parker pulled him down. — Let him finish, Parker 

Dana smiled at the Judge and raised his hand gracefully, taking one or 
two steps toward the bench. — The counsel for the claimant says if the 
man were out of his mind he would not object. Out of his mind? Please, 
your Honor, if you have ever had reason to fear that a prisoner was not 
in the possession of his mind, you would fear it in such a case as this. 


But I have said enough. I am confident your Honor will not decide so 
momentous an issue against a man without counsel and without oppor- 

With another smile at the Judge, he sat. Loring turned to Counsel 
Thomas for his rebuttal, wondering what sugared words he would be 
wooed with next. He began to phrase his reply to Dana . . . not a real 
court, sad duty dictated by facts at hand . . . and the man would have the 
satisfaction, at least, after that brief show of eloquence, of knowing that 
he had been given the best possible defense. 

Tony had sunk into apathy again. The case had become routine. Coun- 
sel Thomas stood. He fixed the Judge with a knowing smile. Parker 
groaned in disgust. He hated these flattery contests. Suddenly Ellis jumped 
to his feet. Dana tried to hold him down, fearing he would undo the 
amiability he had so gracefully obtained. Ellis pushed off his arm. 
— Amicus curiae, he growled. 

The Judge nodded. Thomas sat with a look of scornful boredom on his 
roman features. 

Ellis's face was livid and his tone was rough. Dana shook his head in 
sorrow but Tony perked up a little at the angry shake in his voice. 

— Your Honor, it is a great shame that justice has to interfere with the 
progress of this hearing. I know your Honor and friends had planned to 
have this man sped southward within the hour. But I have never seen a 
person vested with the title of judge carrying on his business in such haste. 
I have never seen such an unjust, unlawful proceeding. Any man would 
have interposed against this hot haste and disregard of decency for the 
prisoner. I have seen more time given to decide whether a strange dog 
would be shot. The man is still innocent and he is referred to as a slave 
by the claimant's witness without exception from the court. He sits con- 
stantly under the watchful eyes of his accusers; between two armed bullies. 
There are armed drunkards in the jury box. 

He stopped a moment as Theodore Parker whispered a few words in 
his ear. — Your Honor, he continued, — I should like to have the man in 
the dock raise his arms to see if he is manacled contrary to the rules of all 
civilized court procedure. 

— That will not be necessary, Mr. Ellis. This court is willing to address 
the prisoner as to a proper defense. 

The Judge, appalled by this attack, waved Thomas to his seat and then, 
with a shake of his head, gestured to Marshal Freeman. Freeman covertly 
got the key from Butman and took the manacles off Tony's wrists. He led 
Tony to the bench. 


— Anthony, said the Judge, — would you like a little more time to think 
this over? These men want to help you. 

Tony mumbled something. 

The Judge flashed a quick look at Ellis, who was still standing and 
still burning, and said, — Then I will take it you assent. I therefore post- 
pone this hearing until Saturday next at the same time. He struck his 
gavel and walked quickly out. 

There was an unhappy silence among the Suttlites. Parker congratulated 
Dana and shook his hand cordially, but he gave Ellis a hard poke in the 
ribs that was like a caress. 

Hallett and his aides sat quietly until the courtroom had been cleared of 
the disrupters. Then he stood and looked at Tony. — You're a fool, Burns- 
These men don't care a hoot in hell for the likes of you. They just want 
to use you for ammunition in their damned rebellion. Your friends are 
here, at this table. I promised you a hundred dollars out of my own pocket 
if you'd go quietly, but you'll never get one cent from me as long as you 
listen to those Abolitionist sons of bitches. 

The rest of the party was appalled at Ben's outburst, for he was, in pub- 
lic, a God-fearing and temperate man. They rose quickly and left, leaving 
him with Watson and the guards in the courtroom. 

At the door, they nearly bumped into Parker again. He was standing 
there with a paper and pencil, noting down the names and number of the 
Marshal's posse. 

Parker stopped Kerr and said blandly, — Mr. Kerr, you've spent a good 
deal of time around the Courthouse. Isn't that deputy sitting next to the 
prisoner Whistling Bennett, the crooked bookmaker who escaped from 
Leverett Street Jail three years ago? 

— Yes, sir, said Kerr, in a low hesitant voice, — I believe it is. 

— Thank you kindly, said Parker, scribbling it down. — I think I can 
identify the other public servants, but Bennett must have been in hiding. 
up to now. 

Nick Queeny was waiting for Hallett in the Marshal's office. He saw 
him come in with his entourage, thunderclouds massing on his brow. 
Hallett looked sourly at Nick but he was glad to see him there. He led his 
staff into the inner office and shut the door. He wanted to lash out at them, 
to raise hell, but there was no one to blame. Asa had brought the man in 
without incident. Riley had kept him well all night in spite of the high 


jinks that went on. Watson had the proper papers on tap and the lawyers 
there on time and even the hackman at the Courthouse door and the steam 
up on the boat. He had no one to curse, no one to take it out on. That's 
why he had been glad to see Queeny. He'd fire him. But even Queeny 
had done his job and got the place for the ship to dock. But he'd fire him 
anyway. His plan had got out of hand in a matter of minutes, it seemed. 
Dana had been bad but he had almost got by Dana. The Judge could 
have said the word and Dana would have been too late, with all his dis- 
gusting pap. Ellis had been digging at Dana to begin, Ellis had seen how 
touch-and-go it was. Even then the Judge could have wound up the case. 
And then Parker and the handcuffs, that's what put old Loring into a 
funk and made him soften at the last moment. The handcuffs and the 
ridiculous way Parker had pleaded with the prisoner to make a defense. 
God knows the darky would regret it and so would Parker. But the hand- 
cuffs . . . 

— For God's sake, Watson, he bellowed, finally breaking the uneasy 
silence, — why did you have those irons put on his hands? 

Watson split his lips open and replied without even parting his teeth, 

— You told me to. 

In the outer room Nick was waiting anxiously for the summons to go 
inside. He saw another man enter and sit down on a chair by the door, 
It was the wharfinger from whom he had hired docking space for the 

When the man saw Nick he got up and crossed to him. — You made 
me lose my job, he said. 

Nick got up to remonstrate. Just then, Ben came slowly out of the inner 
room. He recognized the man at once. 

— What are you doing here now? Ben said. — Didn't Riley pay you off 
yesterday ? 

— I've lost my job, Hallett; I got fired for letting you people have the 

— That's not my affair, said Ben bluntly; — you were in charge. 

— I didn't know you people wanted to send a nigger back. 
Ben wheeled around to Nick. — What did you tell the man ? 

— He told me it was for a fishing party, said the wharfinger. — Old man 
Pierson nearly took my scalp off when he heard about it. 

Ben shrugged his shoulders indifferently and waved a hand at Nick. 

— You'll have to take it out of his hide. He put the deal through. Mr. 
Queeny, why did you lie to this man and tell him you wanted the wharf 
for a fishing party? 


— Because it was the last wharf on the list and when I told the others 
you sent me, they wouldn't even talk to me. 

Ben put one thumb in his vest pocket and raised the other hand to his 
cheek in a gesture of slight embarrassment. — Well, I've got other fish to 
fry. You'll have to look out for yourself, sir. 

— 'Tain't only myself, blustered the man. — I got seven kids, and jobs 
come hard nowadays. 

— Can't you do something, Mr. Hallett? said Nick. — It was my fault 
it happened. 

— I did it in good faith, said the man. — Right is right. 

— Seeing your humanitarian instincts are so strong this morning, Mr. 
Queeny, how would it be if I gave him the opening you were to have at 
the Custom House? 

Queeny paled at this but then manfully said, — All right, if he's got 
seven kids, he's welcome. 

— See Colonel Green over to the Post, ordered Ben, placing his fat hand 
on the man's round shoulders. 

The man grabbed Ben's hand and shook it warmly with both of his. 
As he left, he shook his fist under Nick's nose. Ben turned wearily back 
to the inner office. Nick stepped up to him, his hat in his hand. Ben 
stopped and studied him a moment. 

— Have you seen your friend the Bishop recently? asked Ben. 

— I seen him last night, after I went to confession. 

— Is that a fish story like the one you told the man here? said Ben 
coldly, starting to turn the handle on the door. . . . All he had to do now 
was step inside and Queeny would be off his hands. . . . 

— You'll find out pretty soon, sir; he might come over and see you. 
Ben let go of the handle as if it were red-hot and turned with a sickly 

smile. — Oh, is that so? Well, you can tell His Honor or His Reverence 
that it won't be necessary. I intend to visit him sometime soon. I think I 
owe him the courtesy of the first call. Ben clapped Nick on the shoulder. 
— Did you tell him how busy we were down here? 

— No, said Nick; — I just told him you promised me a job in the 
Custom House. 

— That will have to wait, of course, said Ben. — But you can continue 
to draw your three dollars a day from the Marshal. We'll keep you on the 
rolls as long as we can. I'll tell Watson about it right away. There are so 
many details. 

— Details, details, he muttered as he walked back into the other office, 
mopping his brow. 


Nick sat down again by the door. He was going to sit there until Watson 
came out and then collect his three dollars and see his name in black and 
white on that sheet. 

Parker and Phillips went over to the office of the Anti-Slavery Society, 
21 Cornhill, to attend to their details. Everything was there. Garrison 
stood at the composing bench ready to set up the story for the Liberator. 
There was a paid agent ready to do legwork and plenty of volunteers to 
distribute leaflets and mobilize a demonstration. 

They decided to have a protest meeting the following night in Faneuil 
Hall. This would give enough time for the out-of-town members to read 
about the case in the Liberator and come out. That meant that Parker and 
Phillips would have to go before the City Council this very night and get 
permission to use the hall. 

Sam May, the agent of the society, was to write to key men in the west- 
ern and southern parts of the state. The messages could be sent by team- 
sters coming into the market that night with vegetables and fish. 

After the paper had been set up, Garrison headed some petitions for the 
use of the hall the following evening. They would be brought around by 
the children of the members. 

Parker wrote a leaflet for Garrison to print. 






On Saturday, May 27, in the Kidnapper's Court 
before the honorable slave blll commissioner 
at the Court House in Court Square 

This would be sent out to the whole state by sympathetic fireboys on the 
trains, stage drivers, truckmen from Lynn with shoes for the Boston ware- 
houses; ladies in trailing brocades would pass them out on tree-lined streets 
in prim towns, sailors would leave them in dockside taverns, telegraph 
operators would send the message along the lines free-gratis and hire their 
own substitutes to cover them when they came up for the meeting. And 
when people got a batch of them to distribute, instead of putting out their 


hands for three dollars a day and found, they would drop a few coins in 
the hand of the agent to pay for the paper. 
Sam May showed Parker one of the letters he had written. 

Dear Mr. Higginson: 

Last night a man was arrested as a fugitive slave. Master is here 
from Virginia. Case brought before Judge Loring. Now adjourned 
to Saturday at nine. We have called a public meeting at Faneuil Hall 
for Friday evening. We want to see Worcester well represented 
there. Give all the notice you can. The friends here are wide awake 
and unanimous. The country must back the city, and if necessary 
lead it. We shall summon all country friends. Come strong. 'Tis said 
the man in private expressed willingness to go back, but not in 

In haste, yours, 

S. May Jr. 

— That's good, Sam, Parker said. — But hold it up until we're sure of 
the hall. I'll be back at seven with Phillips to pick up the petitions. 

And so he was. And what is more he had been able to start his sermon 
for Sunday and had got on well with it. 

The petitions were on the table in the ofhce. There were one hundred 
and fifty-seven names on them. More than a thousand leaflets had been 
printed and five hundred were already on their way down the North 
Shore on the Eastern Railway. Austin Bearse, the sea-going Abolition- 
ist who kept the secret list of the Vigilance Committee, had alerted 
nearly all of them for a meeting the next morning in Tremont Temple. 

All Parker and Phillips had to do now was get permission to use 
Faneuil Hall. It wasn't always given. But these two were old soldiers, 
old agitators, and their hides were as thick as buffaloes'. They were used 
to plowing ahead, expecting opposition and rebuke, used to getting noth- 
ing as a favor but always as a hard-won concession after blistering the 
powers that be from center to circumference, as Garrison put it. So they 
walked in due time into the Aldermen's Chamber without faltering or an 
inward wince, laid the petitions on the chairman's desk and sat back to 
wait their order of business. 

When their question came up, Phillips got at once to his feet, bracing 
himself for the worst. — Your Honor and Aldermen, doubtless some of 
you will look with disfavor on this request. I have heard it remarked that 
we have no right to the use of this institution. But gentlemen, who built 


Faneuil Hall? Peter Faneuil's ancestors were themselves Huguenot fugi- 
tives from an edict almost as cruel as the Fugitive Slave Bill, and only he 
whose body and soul refuses to crouch beneath inhuman legislation has 
a right to be heard there. 

He paused a moment; Alderman Williams had asked for the floor on 
a point of order. Phillips was startled. He sat down, studying the man 
who had interrupted him. 

Alderman Williams was no match for Wendell Phillips. He was a small, 
molelike man with soft brown eyes almost hidden by a fleshy snout of a 
nose. His voice was weak and he had a bit of a burr in it and his great 
earnestness made his poor delivery uncomfortable to listen to. He said he 
was sorry to interrupt the gentl'm'n but he knew the gentl'm'n and his 
friends were very busy and he wanted to help them and get things over 
with. He pulled a small paper out of his pocket and began to read un- 
certainly: — In view of the outrage committed in this city last evening, 
I move the usual formality of referring the petition to committee to be dis- 
pensed with and that the petition be granted immediately. 

The motion was unanimously carried, and when the petitioners rose to 
go their hands were grasped by nine others, and the Mayor said that if 
he hadn't a previous engagement, he would have liked to chair the meeting 

This emboldened Phillips to ask if the city police would be used, as 
they were before, to carry out the rendition of the fugitive. 

— No, said the Mayor, — we want no repetition of the Sims affair. 
This remark, unexpected and unhoped for and added to the avowal 

of willingness to chair the meeting, quite took the wind from their sails 
and they walked silently away from the City Hall, each in deep thought 
. . . wondering if the history of their cause and of their lives had taken a 
sharp turn. 

— I suppose we should go on our way rejoicing, said Phillips after a 
while, — but I confess I am greatly puzzled at this development. Why 
did Ben Hallett cross party lines and entrust this rendition to a Whig 
like Loring and a fair-minded one at that? Why is the Mayor so friendly 
and why are the aldermen so free? 

— There are great forces waiting on this event, said Parker. — We have 
been searching for a mere knothole to let a beam of light in on this coun- 
try. With this, we might be able to throw open the door on all its dark- 
ness. Perhaps the time has come for the Anti-Slavery Society to stop act- 
ing like a patent reformer who screams in your ears that he can finish 
the world with a single touch. 


Parker looked around slyly at Wendell as he said this and Wendell 
rose to the bait. He stopped short in his tracks. 

— I have been thinking along the same lines. Without us up there on 
the platform this could be a very respectable meeting. Furthermore, I 
have an idea that if we went back to the Mayor and both said we had en- 
gagements elsewhere tomorrow night, he'd reconsider and act as chair- 

Parker looked up at Phillips to see whether he was teasing him — but 
the other man's face held only complaisance. 

— It's up to you, Wendell, he said, somewhat gruffly. — If you think 
it's right and worth while, I'll arrange to be out of town tomorrow 

— Good, said Wendell, swinging him around. — Let's go back. 
Phillips stepped out in the direction of the City Hall at a good pace 

but Parker lallygagged behind him. — Am I walking too fast, Theodore? 
he asked politely. 

Parker seemed to be actually limping along. — I'm not so young as I 
was. I have to work now with my will. I used to work with an impulse 
that required the will to check it. 

The affectionate mockery now working in Phillips prompted him to 
say, — All the more reason why you should take a rest and let someone 
else assume this burden. 

He gave Parker his arm and Parker leaned rather heavily on it. After 
they had almost reached the City Hall steps Parker said in a sad tone, 
— I have been thinking, as we walked along, of Abby Foster. There's a 
woman who traveled all over the North for the woman's cause, bearing 
her burden in the heat of the day. She was treated as an outcast, hated by 
men and women. Every vulgar editor threw a stone at her, picked out of 
the mud. Now that the Woman's Rights question has won a little re- 
spectability, and they can manage a big convention, they think it's better 
for her to sit beneath the platform, lest it hurt the cause. 

— If our good luck holds, said Phillips, planting his final barb of re- 
taliation, — we won't need any platform. Perhaps this meeting tomorrow 
night is a waste of time. After all, it's up to Loring. He has a good record 
in the Probate Court, is known as a kindly man among the widows and 

Parker nodded his head. — I must confess I was much impressed when 
he looked so fatherly toward Burns, like a good Judge of Probate, and 
asked him if he wanted more time. 

— He was Horace Mann's law partner too. I don't think we have any- 


thing to worry about in this case. Let's make our regrets to the Mayor and 
bow out. 

There was a short pause. — No, no, shouted Parker, suddenly and vio- 
lently. — With a spurt of his pen Loring dashed off the liberty of a man. 
He left a warrant for seizure with the Marshal and then went home to 
his family, caressed his children and smoked a cigar. As for the Mayor, 
he's a fool and I wouldn't trust him with a Sunday School class. Let's get 
back up to Cornhill and do our job as we ought to. 

Phillips suppressed a deep, satisfying chuckle. 

When they got back to the Anti-Slavery Office they found Garrison still 
pulling leaflets from the hand press. But there were already high piles of 
them on the splintery top of the table by his side, all wrapped and noted 
for delivery to the South Shore, the Worcester Pike, the North End, the 
South End, the Hill and State Street. 

The smell of the wet ink had a freshness to it that reminded Parker of 
new-baked bread. He caught up a bundle and held it to his nose. — Oh, 
how I love that smell! It's like gunpowder to the nostrils of an old soldier. 
Let's put them out while they're fresh, Wendell. The evening is still 

— That's the least of our tasks, said Phillips. — We must make up a 
report on the aldermen's position for the paper. There's power going 
a-begging. We must put a bid in for it at once. Let's run a box on the 
first page of the next edition. 


Whereas the Mayor and Aldermen of Boston have given up the busi- 
ness of man-stealing as a municipal function and have relieved the police 
force and law officers from this odious duty . . . 

We, the people of this city, wish to bid for the services of this agency 
to succor and protect our Negro citizens from any and all Southern inva- 
sions against their liberty, and to arrest, confine and punish all kidnap- 
pers of men . . . 

Garrison's hands and arms stopped their smooth, steady motion. His 
head turned to Phillips in a quick birdlike motion. His eyes brightened 
happily behind his glasses, saying, But can this be? 

Parker put down the bundle of leaflets with a bit of a slap. He looked 
for a moment at the name scrawled across the wrapping. State Street, 
it said. 

6 4 

— Now hold on, Wendell, hold on. I can see Garrison reaching for the 
boldest type on the bench to announce the millennium, no less. I don't 
think we're that close. Power never goes begging. It's never left without 
a possessor and we can't pick it up from a Lost and Found column. If it 
has fallen from City Hall it has landed somewhere else. When the kings 
dropped it and the priests and the military, it passed to the hands of the 
capitalists and the same thing will happen if the politicians let go their 

— There you go, baiting the capitalists again. I find a great deal of 
inconsistency in your position on this, Theodore. First you say they con- 
trol every act of the politicians and now you say they will pick up what 
the politicians drop. If they are one, as you usually say, they will drop the 
thing together. Then you are always attacking their morality, saying they 
have none. 

— Oh no, I don't deny their morality. I simply say money is their moral- 
ity, as well as their religion, their culture, their brains . . . and if not their 
brains, their brass, which is better. 

— Then why not give up the struggle altogether ? Why not wait until 
their money is gone or their profits abolished ? Is it because of this reason- 
ing that you are not a member of the Anti-Slavery Society? 

Garrison stepped between them, holding up his hands for a halt. — This 
could go on all night. I can neither arbitrate it nor work while it is going 
on. But I have a good suggestion. Why don't you take this bundle I have 
marked for State Street and hand them round at the Merchants' Ex- 
change? You can judge, by as many as drop from their hands unread, how 
much of the power is still resting there. 

— Excellent, said Parker. — If the power is there, their hands will be 
too full to hold the leaflet. 

Time and work in a seaport town like Boston was measured more by 
the tide than by the clock. So Garrison, who like other Bostonians glanced 
daily at the chalk marks announcing the water's ebb and rise, knew that 
the hierarch shipowner and merchants would be lounging, reading and 
bickering even at this late hour at the Merchants' Exchange and Reading 
Room, waiting to hear what argosies were to be dealt with at the ten 
o'clock high. 

The Exchange was the heart of State Street. Its builders had set it up 
with columns of Siena marble, Corinthian capitals and a grand dome 
of colored glass, every inch the Temple of Mammon that it should be. 


The walls were adorned with bulletin boards giving off, with their fine- 
veined minutiae of prices and profits, a symbolic glint of gold more im- 
pressive than if bricks of the metal itself had been used to support the 
arching tangents of the roof. Pierced through the nipple of the dome was 
an immense weathervane to show which way the wind and the wealth 
came from. Alongside the walls were triangular racks bearing their ban- 
ners, which were also their chief weapons, the broad white sheets of the 
commercial press of Boston. 

In the center of the black-and-white-squared marble floor this night 
stood old John Pierson, head shipowner of Boston, looking up to watch 
the way of the wind. There were others around him, other men of port, 
looking up too and toying likewise with their gold toothpicks. Some of 
the lesser of the herd grazed among the newspapers and shook their heads 
over the first thunder rumblings of the Burns story. 

When the door swung abruptly open and Parker and Phillips stood 
for a moment there to accustom their eyes to the glare of the gaslights, the 
lesser bulls looked up startled, and then trotted over to stand apprehen- 
sively alongside the rump of the chief bull of the herd. There was a dou- 
ble baker's dozen of them in all, and they drew close together as Parker, 
lurching along with an uneven roll of his heavy shoulders, his head car- 
ried forward and slightly low, and Phillips, erect and light in his stride, 
but equally wolfish, moved in an arc toward them over the chessboard 

John Pierson flashed his small eyes at them for a split second but kept 
up his pretense of studying the weathervane. Parker offered a leaflet to 
a man standing slightly apart. The man turned his back scornfully and 
moved into the defensive circle of the herd. Another looked at the paper 
for a moment, then thrust his hands into his pockets. In the corner, the 
Secretary-Factotum was sitting nervously at his desk. He caught the scent 
of fear coming from his masters. He got up and marched bravely over to 
the two wolves. — Pardon me, gentlemen, but I don't recall that you are 
members of this club. I regret to say that admittance is given only to sub- 

— What about newsboys, said Parker. — Don't you let them in ? 

— Well, yes. The Secretary paused and smirked optically at his employ- 
ers. — I did not understand that that was your business. 

— It is, said Parker, handing him a leaflet. 

The Secretary reached into his vest, drew out a penny and dropped it 
into Parker's hand. The others tittered. Parker dropped it calmly into his 
own pocket and began to walk slowly around the herd, trying to catch a 


friendly or a fascinated eye. Suddenly he stopped before a moon-faced 
youth who was trying in vain to look everywhere but at him. 

— Hello, Chester, Parker said casually. — I haven't seen you at Sunday 
School lately. Won't you take one of these broadsides? 

Chester swallowed hard and then said as quietly as he could, — I don't 
mean to be rude, sir, but I'm working for Mr. Pierson now. 

— Excuse me, Chester, said Parker, his big voice echoing up to the dome 
itself. — Why don't you put a big brass collar around your neck so we'll 
know whose dog you are ? 

— Take it! God damn it, take it, Chester, said John Pierson. — That's 
the only way we'll get rid of them. 

Hands came out to grasp the leaflets. Some dropped silver into the ven- 
dors' palms. — There is no charge for this information, Parker said, 
— but any contribution to the cause is gratefully received. John Pierson 
with a contemptuous grunt balanced a silver dollar ©n his thumbnail and 
flipped it at Parker. Parker missed it and Chester scrambled for it on his 
hands and knees and handed it to him. 

Phillips nodded at Parker, and they walked back to the door and out. 
Then they stood anxiously at the great windows on the portico, watching 
for effects. John Pierson read his through quickly and opened his hand 
and let it swoop and settle gently to the floor. 

— One, said Parker. 

Chester crumpled his into a ball and threw it down. Others began to 
fall! six . . . seven . . . eight . . . nine. 

— Alas, said Parker. — The floor of hell is thick inlaid with patines of 
bright hopes. . . . He turned to go. 

— Wait, wait, said Phillips. — Look at John Pierson. 

John Pierson, with beet-red and thoughtful mien, was stooping to the 
floor to pick up and study with ponderous gravity the rejected leaflet. 

As if this act had been a signal to disperse, the herd dissolved and stood 
in twos and threes studying and debating the papers in their hands. 

Phillips turned to Parker. — Now there are only eight with their minds 
made up. Eight out of twenty-six. See how they change about when the 
old bellwether speaks. 

— He's not a bellram. He's a Judas goat. But you are right, my friend, 
their ranks are divided. Parker smiled and pulled at his beard. — There's 
power a-beggin*. 




The first task on the fifth day was to ask Dana formally, in the name of 
the Vigilance Committee, to defend Burns. Parker asked Phillips whether 
he minded going alone. Parker knew he'd get into some kind of wrangle 
with Dana, and felt that the lawyer might be annoyed with him for forc- 
ing his hand the day before. To all intents and purposes, Dana had taken 
Tony's case, but he had to be asked and all arrangements had to be in good 

Even the visit and request of Phillips wasn't enough to satisfy Dana. 
He had to be sure the fugitive wanted him. — I don't want to obtrude 
on the man, he said. 

This was just the sort of thing that would put Parker's back up; but 
Phillips knew what to expect and, after a mild protest, he went over to 
the Courthouse to see Tony Burns. 

Ben Hallett also knew the mold of Dana's mind and he had instructed 
the Marshal to have Phillips or any of the known Abolitionists barred 
from seeing the prisoner. The Marshal's men had muskets now, and they 
pointed them at Phillips and ordered him away from the room. 

— You ve got no truck with him, said Watson as Phillips protested. 
— Richard Dana is his lawyer and he's the only one that's going to get in. 
I ain't letting every Tom, Dick and Harry make game of this prisoner. 

Phillips reported the impasse to Dana. Dana was shocked. — I can't 
understand why Freeman should say that I am his lawyer. Unless Judge 
Loring has appointed me. Perhaps we'd better wait until I am formally 
notified by the court. 

— No, Richard. Judge Loring has appointed no one to defend Burns. 
You appointed yourself yesterday. 

— Merely amicus curiae. 

— That's enough for the Judge, but if you insist we'll get a written re- 
quest from the prisoner. But how are we going to do it if you, as his 
lawyer, are the only one to be admitted and you won't be his lawyer 


unless someone is admitted to get a note requesting you to become his 
lawyer ? 

Dana sat at his desk, smiling slightly. — The Marshal had no right to 
bar you from the prisoner. I'll write a note to Judge Loring for an order 
of admission. 

My dear Judge Loring [he wrote]: 

I scarcely feel at liberty to act as counsel for Anthony Burns and 
feel it would be improper for me to obtrude myself on him for that 
purpose until the proper persons see him and ascertain his desire in 
the matter. Such a person has already been refused admission. Kindly 
oblige with an admission order to the United States Marshal. 

Phillips had to take the note over to Cambridge. It was Judge Loring's 
day to lecture at the Law School. The classroom was crowded. A group 
of Southern students had heard about the case and they wanted to see 
him and to test his mettle. 

When Phillips stepped into the room the Judge was just bringing his 
lecture to a close. He made a striking picture with his silvery hair and 
benign countenance. 

— If I had to give the definition of a lawyer, he said, — I should ignore 
the wide scope of his learning and power under the law and state it in 
these simple terms. A lawyer is a human agent for effecting a human pur- 
pose by human means. 

He stressed the word human with discreet warmth and dismissed the 

The Judge was annoyed to see Phillips. It was bad enough to have all 
the turmoil of this controversy brought into the courtroom without its 
following him across the Charles River to these scholarly haunts. His greet- 
ing was cold and Phillips barely acknowledged it. 

Phillips laid the letter down in front of him without comment, like a 
man with a grocery order. The Judge quickly wrote out an answer, a de- 
mand upon Freeman: Admit counsel to the prisoner. 

— And friends, Judge Loring, if you please, said Phillips. 

The Judge's pen hesitated a moment over this, describing a few futile 
circles in the air. . . . And Parser, thought the Judge . . . and trouble, 
and exhortations to fight bac\ and stand up for your rights, and lie to the 
heavens and deny everything. . . . He wished now he had appointed 
Dana first off and let him handle the whole thing; given the man a token 
defense without involving this crowd at all. But he set the pen to paper 
and scratched in : and friends. 

6 9 

— It is a little irregular of Marshal Freeman to bar friends from seeing 
the prisoner, but 1 can see his point. 

He handed the paper to Phillips and looked up so kindly and with such 
an air of benediction that it seemed impossible for such a man to commit 
an unkind act. 

— You see, Mr. Phillips, he continued in a low, pleading tone, — I 
think the case is so clear that you would not be justified in placing any 
obstruction in the way of the man's going back, as he probably will. 

For almost the first time in his life, Wendell Phillips felt like clenching 
his fist and knocking a man to the floor. 

Parker had to chair a meeting of the Vigilance Committee that morning 
at eleven and that was the time that Phillips was interviewing Judge Lor- 
ing in Cambridge. 

The meeting was to be held in a small inner hall in Tremont Temple. 
When Parker got there he found Austin Bearse, the doorkeeper of the 
committee, already there. Austin had placed a table across the entrance 
and had the membership list ready to check all comers and keep the 
strangers out. 

When Parker went to the outer wall to open some windows and freshen 
the stuffy air, he saw a man standing before a shop window in the small 
street outside. He thought it looked a great deal like Asa Butman and 
ducked to one side for further observation. 

At the door, Austin was having trouble with the first three people to 
come in. Their names were not on the lists and they spoke with such 
heavy foreign accents he could not make out a word they were saying. He 
asked them to wait a moment and came excitedly over to Parker. 

— There's three men out here, Theodore, and I don't find their names 
on the lists and I can't make out what they're saying. 

Parker looked over at the door. — They're all right, he said. — I know 
them. They're Germans : refugees. They've been here since '48. 

Austin scowled. — I think they've got the wrong meeting. They have 
musical instruments with them. 

— Musicians always bring their instruments with them wherever they 
go. I don't know why but they bring them to church sometimes. 

— That's about as sensible as me carrying an anchor around, Austin said. 

— It's a good idea at the moment. Look carefully out of this window 
and tell me if you recognize that man standing in front of the shop over 


Austin peeked carefully out. — It's Asa Butman. 

— Let the musicians in, Austin. Don't quibble. It's a pity we didn't think 
of it and all of us carry an instrument. When they see the people gathering, 
they'll think it's a concert or a rehearsal at least. 

Austin went back to the door and told them to come in. First he made 
them sign their names on the list, taking care that it was on a clean sheet 
so that they could not see any of the other names. 

The musicians were rattled at being checked at the door, and when 
they got in they separated and went instinctively to different parts of the 
hall, the way cows come into a barn and stick their heads into the right 
stall, passing empty ones to do it. The cello player took his instrument to 
the front and sat directly under the speaker's platform. The other two, a 
French horn and a trombone player, took seats to the rear and to the right 
as they would if they were sitting for a symphony or a rehearsal. 

Parker smiled at this and thought of telling Austin how it proved that 
they were the real thing. But Austin was busy trying to decipher and 
memorize their names. 

The cello player sat quietly embracing his instrument in its little green 
coat. Parker went and shook hands with him and exchanged greetings in 
German. He waved at the other two. Parker then had an idea. — Why 
don't you play something? he said. 

The man nodded and smiled and began to take off the cello's coat. The 
other two took out their instruments. The three musicians began to tune 
and warm up their instruments, and Parker went back to the window. 
It was just as he had thought. The noise of the tuning made the man in 
the street suddenly turn around. It was Asa Butman and he looked up at 
the window with confusion. 

— Shall we play a nice waltz? asked the cellist. 

— Beethoven, answered Parker. 

— With three instruments? said the cellist. 

— Just to make it seem like a concert or a rehearsal, Parker said. 
— There's a man outside I want to scare away. We don't want him dancing 
in the street. 

— We'll scare him, said the trombone player. — The C Minor . . . 
He threw back his head, set the mouthpiece to his lips, puffed and 

puffed until his whole head seemed as red and round as the sun and then 
let the first big eight notes boom out. 

The cello player whirled his instrument around angrily and hit the back 
sharply with the bow. Then he stood up. — No! No! Otto, he shrieked 
in German. — I will play the theme on the cello as I should and you 

play the string bass part! Now, Franz, he said to the horn player, — don't 
you come in till your place. Mr. Parker is not stupid. He knows what 
should be. 

He sat down again, tapped the side of the cello twice with the bow, 
and they began to play. Parker could see full wonderment on Constable 
Asa's face, which was now frankly turned up to the window. 

To increase Asa's confusion, Parker laid his hand beside his mouth and 
began to shout heavy, resounding phrases in German, taking care that 
he would be heard but not seen out of the window. — Die hohen Tone 
von Instrumenten, urenn ich etwas weit weg bin, hore ich nicht. 

The men played louder. The horn player was attempting to play the 
fast viola part and he blew himself out and had to stop. — Achl brich noch 
nicht, du mattes Herz*. Ohne Gefahr und Kampf ist \ein Siegl shouted 

Asa had now come to the center of the street and stood on the cobble- 
stones looking up, his ear cupped with one hand and his eyes shaded 
with the other. Finally he shrugged and, mumbling disgustedly to himself, 
he ambled off down the street. 

By now the hall was half filled, and the men were smiling and laughing 
at Parker's extraordinary performance. He turned to the musicians and 
told them to stop playing. They put away their instruments. 

— It's an ancient ritual, Parker said to the people, — to scare off the 
Devil. He was watching us outside in the shape of Constable Butman. 

Five minutes later, Austin closed the door and locked it. The hall was 
full. There were people there who had never appeared before but were 
on the rolls because of small gifts of money and sympathy, privately ex- 
pressed. They brought a deceptive air of unity to the meeting. 

The gavel fell and Parker began the meeting. 

— Although it is a sad occasion that has brought us together, he said, 
— I rejoice in seeing so many new faces. I note the unusual complement 
of doctors and lawyers. I hope we also have some men with fists. 

This brought a wry laugh. The big trombone player at the back held 
up a clenched hand as big around as a cabbage. Parker smiled at him. 

— I wish to welcome particularly three musicians who have not long 
ago fled from oppression across the seas to this land of the free. It is sad 
to observe that in spite of our country's reputation as a refuge, I dare not 
introduce these men to you by name for fear of reprisals against them. But 
I will introduce their instruments. Herr Cello, Herr Trombone and Herr 
French Horn. 

— The meeting was really begun by the tuning of these instruments and 


by the playing of a short but very effective impromptu concert. It was an 
overture ... no, not an overture. It was a great kind of awakening piece 
in which, according to the description of Miss Margaret Fuller, innumer- 
able spirits seem to demand the crisis of their lives. 

A burst of loud handclapping from a single man followed this and 
someone said, — Hear, hear! 

— Thank you, Tom, said Parker, looking over at him. — I think I can 
risk naming Mr. Higginson. The worst they can do is send him back to 
Salem, a cold, east-windy damp kind of a place to which his misguided 
ancestors came in 1629. That is punishment enough, I grant you. Mr. 
Higginson is one of those Worcester frontiersmen who seem to demand 
the crisis of their lives every time they come to Boston. 

This brought a great guffaw of laughter. Higginson got up and said, 
— I might say, Mr. Chairman, that when we get back we have to com- 
mand the crisis of our wives. 

The chairman let the laughter eddy itself away. The meeting was right 
now. The members were relaxed in their chairs and sat with their legs 
crossed instead of holding them tightly together. They had no embarrass- 
ment about resting their arms on the back of the other fellow's chair. They 
had picked up each other's hats when they had fallen in the belly-heave 
of common merriment and they had seen each other smile and linked eyes 
in the fraternity of a joke. . . . They have joined in the sweet, thought 
Parker; now for the bitter. . . . 

— We're here this morning, he said, — to discuss ways and means of 
giving aid and comfort to a victim of the Fugitive Slave Law. First of all 
I should like to read to you from this law so that you will be taking what- 
ever steps you decide fully informed of the consequences. 

The laughter had all gone now and even the whispering stopped as 
he tolled off the law: — To hinder or prevent the arrest, to rescue or at- 
tempt to rescue, to harbor or conceal a fugitive, is punishable by a fine of 
not over a thousand dollars or imprisonment not exceeding six months 
and by payment to the owner of a thousand dollars for each fugitive so lost. 
The chair now opens the subject for discussion. 

Austin Bearse hurriedly shuffled his papers together and came down the 
aisle to take the floor as the first speaker. He looked every inch the old 
sea dog he was. His hair was cut in a pompadour and it came to a point 
in the center of his crown. He had a grizzled pepper-and-salt beard, not 
concealing his jutting chin but running under it from ear to ear like a 
fuzzy helmet strap. He held his papers under his arm, swept back the 
blue coat with the big brass buttons and hooked a gnarled thumb in the 


sleeve-hole of his waistcoat. His bandy legs were spread apart for the roll 
of the sea. 

— You folks here have sunk a lot of good money . . . He stopped. 
— Excuse me, I mean spent. Sunk ain't a very good choice of word for a 
sea captain to use. Spent a lot of money in outfitting the sloop Flirt to use 
for the purpose of rescuing fugitives. We've used it four or five times, 
but it's hardly paid its keep. Oh, we take out a few fishin' parties at fifty 
cents a head, but they don't amount to enough to pay back the share- 
holders. Most of them don't expect nothin', I know, but they do expect that 
the sloop Flirt will be used to rescue them as is in need. Mr. Chairman, I 
brought her up from Hingham Harbor three days ago and she's anchored 
of? Long Wharf. I propose we let the trial go hang and let them ship the 
man away. We can stop the ship just ofif Boston Light and take the man 
off and make a run up the coast with him. We wouldn't need more'n a 
dozen men to board the John Taylor . . . that's the tin pot they've char- 

Parker groaned inwardly. This wasn't what they wanted. This wasn't 
it at all. — Captain, he said, — what you propose is piracy. We may, as you 
say, have to let the trial go hang, but we don't want to let ourselves go 
hang! I believe that's the penalty for what you recommend. 

— And why not piracy ? continued Austin belligerently. — Do you real- 
ize that Governor Wise of Virginia has a pilot boat off the Virginia 
Capes, and he has them stop and board every vessel bound for here and 
search them for fugitives? And charges them ten dollars to boot! I intend 
to get the other coasting captains to join me and go down and resist the 
pilot boat and then bring its crew into court as pirates. 

— Very well, Captain, said Parker. — I will put it as a motion. 
Another man got up, someone Parker didn't know, and said: — We 

don't know if the man's goin' by boat. They might send him of! on a train. 
Now, if we could get a posse, like, to hide in the woods around Walden 
Pond . . . and when the train comes, put ties on the track and make 'em 
stop the train and, while they was stopped, we could snake him off . . . 

— What if they don't stop the train ? said Parker. 

— Why, then I guess she'd just about be wrecked to splinters, the man 
drawled, spitting quietly on the floor. 

— The purpose of this committee isn't to get the man dead or alive, sir. 
Any other suggestions ? 

There were no other suggestions of this order but there was a spate 
of reminiscences of this rescue and that one. Parker's head began to ache. 
It was an ordeal to preside at a meeting containing the most articulate 


people in town. The lawyers began to get up and recommend all be left 
to Richard Henry Dana. Harvard men thought a strong and appealing 
letter to Judge Loring would turn the scales. The ministers wanted to 
leave it up to God. By noon they were nowhere. Not one practical sugges- 
tion had come up. Parker had ignored the upraised hands of Dr. Samuel 
Howe and Dr. Bowditch. It wasn't time for them yet. They were radicals, 
and he wanted to smoke out the conservatives and wishy-washy members 
first. Let them have their say, and get their feelings off their chests, so they 
could not say they had been overlooked or silenced when a clear-cut plan 
of action came up. . . . He decided to call the thing to a halt for a lunch 
period and then to begin in the afternoon with a ruthless suppression of 
all chatter and rhetoric and get something concrete down on the report. 
— Recess till 1 130, he said. 

# # # # # 

A sheet of wet paper blown against the left leg of Ben Hallett spelled 
out his work for the day. It was one of Parker's broadsides and it met him 
halfway across the Common. He tried to poke it off with the end of his 
furled umbrella. But it stuck to the tip in an annoying way and when he 
brought it up to disimpale it, he caught sight of the message. As he walked 
on he could see hundreds of them, clinging damply and leechlike to the 
gnarled roots of the elms and flocked and rippling in the gutters flushed 
with the peltings of an early morning shower. 

He had to tell the Marshal, because of the leaflet, that Louis Varelli 
would have to be brought into the matter, and he impatiently brushed 
aside mention of his own objection of the day before. The Marshal dis- 
patched Asa Butman to Louis's brothel on Staniford Street, to ofTer the 
regular three dollars and found a day; but Butman came back with a re- 
fusal. Louis demanded to see Ben himself, and Ben had to give in. They 
met in a back room of Peter Brigham's saloon, known confusingly as 
"the Concert Hall," and Louis put it to him straight: jobs in the Custom 
House for him and his boys. . . . 

Of course Ben had to give in and promise it. Where else could he get 
sixty armed and reckless men? Louis had men with battle and jail experi- 
ence at his beck and his corporal had served with General Quitman, the 
Cuban filibusterer. 

— Get them as tough as you can, said Ben in parting. 

# # # # # 

— No, said Dana when Phillips had got back to him with the note from 
Loring. — It's too incredible. I can't believe Judge Loring would say that. 


— He's prejudged the case, said Phillips bitterly. 

Dana sat back in his chair and carefully crossed his legs. He tried to 
smile away the unaccustomed anger from Wendell's face. — It was a casual 
peacemaking remark. He meant only that it is one of the clearest of 
cases and a waste of time to expand upon. The claimant has put in his 
record and the prisoner has admitted that he is the person named. The only 
argument the Judge has to meet from us is on the constitutionality of the 
law itself, and it has been already upheld in the higher courts. He would 
dismiss that line and there's no appeal. 

— Still want the case, Richard? Phillips said glumly. 

— Of course. You see, they tried to bite of? too much and want to prove 
escape too. That is another matter; there is no clear evidence there, and 
Brent seems to have made some thoughtless testimony. I think we can 
refute it. 

— Couldn't you ask for a new judge and a new trial on the basis of the 
statement Loring made to me? 

Dana looked at him with disapproval. — I wouldn't use any such state- 
ment as that. Loring gave you that as one gentleman to another. In the 
first place he could deny it, and in the second place it's the sort of thing 
I don't care to use in a courtroom. 

He paused and looked thoughtfully at Phillips again. 

— Wendell, I wonder if you'd mind taking the Reverend Mr. Grimes 
and Deacon Pitts with you when you see the prisoner? He might feel 
more at home with some of his own kind. 

The good nature came back to Phillips's face. He knew what Dana 
really meant: that if it were left to Parker and himself there might be a 
plan of escape introduced as well as the question of the trial. — Yes, 
Richard, he said, rising, — the amenities will be scrupulously observed. 

The windows in Tony's prison room had bars over them but they faced 
toward the Harbor and the fresh east wind blew in through most of the 
day. At sundown the wind shifted around to the other side and the nights 
were hot. He stood constantly at one of them during the day, trying to 
lose his confusion in the clear and uncomprehending sky. His opinion 
leaned to the side of giving up and going back without a struggle. It was 
more comfortable to stay inert. The flicker of anger and courage Parker 
had lit up in him died of? in the hot night and even the salty tang of 
the sea breeze had not raised it again. 

The truckmen were restless and felt the confinement more than he did. 

7 6 

At first they had been uniformly jovial. The money was good and the 
prospect of getting paid for loafing around was new and inviting. But 
then the time began to drag and they discovered that the appetite can 
sicken even of free grub and drinks. They began to debate and then to 
quarrel. They tried hand wrestling and that grew into struggles and fierce 
bouts ending with two of them rolling in anger on the floor and getting 
hurt. They played an incessant game of cards and found that provoking. 
Finally two of them quit and went back to hanging around the Custom 
House steps for a trucking job. It was precarious but better. They weren't 
cut out for sitting in a stuffy room keeping watch over a harmless darky 
down on his luck, no matter how good the money was. 

Riley replaced one of them with a friend who had served sentences 
and knew how to kill time, the other with a man named Batchelder who 
lived over on Bunker Hill in Charlestown and was highly recommended 
by one of the editors of the Boston Post. 

Augerhole Foggarty, the ex-convict, was a police informer now. He was 
working with the added incentive of a cash bonus if he got a statement 
from Tony in writing that Colonel Suttle was his master. With this in 
mind he kept apart from the other guards and tried to build Tony's con- 
fidence by not joining in the card games and by drinking secretly in the 
corner from his own pint. 

In the middle of the afternoon he decided to make his try. He sidled 
up to the window where Tony was, shuffling a dirty pack of cards with 
pretended awkwardness. 

— Care for a game of cards ? he asked shyly. 

— No, said Tony. 

— Just between us, I mean. I don't like to play for money myself but it 
kills time good. 

— No, no, said Tony roughly. 

— Now don't get savage against me, said Augerhole. — Fm just tryin' 
to get money to help my family. Somebody's gotta do it. 

— I hold nothin' against you or any other man, said Tony, turning away 
from him. 

— I heard you was a nice kind of a colored man, said Augerhole. 
— That's why I can't believe you said them things against the Colonel. 

— What things? 

— That he whipped you every day and that he pushed your hand into 
the sawmill and broke it. It's going all around town. I half-believe that's 
why he's so mad at you. 

— I never said that about any man. He treated me well enough. 


Augerhole was pleased. He decided to risk the request. He stood for a 
moment very quietly, then moved closer, almost nestling against the other 
man. Tony felt him exhale against his cheek and turned around. 

He saw Augerhole's pale eyes looking up at him with an expression of 
trust and appeal. They were sad, watery, helpless eyes, and Tony wanted 
to clap him on the shoulder and say, Cheer up and turn those pools of 
misery away from me. 

Augerhole dropped his gaze in pretended confusion. — I want to help 
you, son. I'm not like the others. I'd give anything to make you and the 
Colonel friends again so he won't beat you and feel savage against you 
when you get back. 

Then he clasped his sweaty hands together as if he were praying. — Just 
give me a little note to the Colonel, why don't you Tony, just saying 
there ain't no hard feelings? He'll forgive you and he won't listen to the 
people telling him to sell you far South as a punishment. 

Tony was puzzled by his attitude. He seemed to be making a lot out 
of another man's troubles, but these Northern folks were all hard to under- 
stand. He had got many messages from strangers in these last hours. 
People even shouted at him from the street as he stood at the window. 
They all seemed to mean well. It seemed easier to go along with all of 
them instead of picking and choosing. He had nothing to lose. 

— You got no money. Them lawyers ain't comin' back, said Augerhole 
sadly. — Why don't you git square with the Colonel and start fresh ? 

And holding the mood with his pleading eyes he pulled a piece of paper 
from his pocket and then fished out a stubby pencil. He laid them on the 
windowsill and put his hand in a brotherly gesture on Tony's shoulder. 

With a shrug of indifference, Tony began to write. — Dear Colonel, 
he muttered, as he formed out the letters. 

— Why don't you write Dear Master, wheedled Augerhole. — You al- 
ready called him that last night. It'll make him know you ain't bucking 
against him no more. 

Tony crossed out Colonel and added Master above k. ... I am sory I 
made trouble for you. My hand was bro\e in a sawmill befor I worked 
for you. 

Augerhole started in alarm, and deftly snatched the note from under 
Tony's fist. Wendell Phillips, Mr. Grimes and Coffin Pitts were being 
admitted into the room. 

It was quite a sight to see the entrance of Wendell Phillips. First he 
stepped aside at the door to let Coffin Pitts and Mr. Grimes precede him. 
He looked around at the guards and nodded pleasantly at them. He 

7 8 

escorted Deacon Pitts and Mr. Grimes over to the window and got them 
chairs and told them to sit down. He got a chair for Tony and when he 
reached for his own, the guard Batchelder had it ready for him and placed 
it politely under him as he sat. He bent forward to address Tony as 
privately as possible, but the guard walked courteously away and got the 
others to withdraw to the periphery of the room. Wendell straightened 
up in his chair and gave a wave of thanks to the retiring group. 

Coffin Pitts shook hands limply and sadly with Tony and gave him 
some cornbread and jam wrapped up in a cloth. Mr. Pitts didn't know 
what to say, so he was silent. Mr. Grimes could sense hostility coming 
from Tony toward him. He couldn't explain it, so he too held his peace. 

Wendell Phillips began by explaining that he represented a large group 
of friends of all fugitives and that he was there to arrange for a proper 
legal defense. 

Tony couldn't refuse or hedge with Coffin looking at him so discon- 
solately so he said, — You may do what you mind to, and let it go at that. 

— May I examine your right hand ? asked Phillips, gently. 
Tony held it out. 

— Can you close it properly? 

Tony showed him that he had to clench it by pushing it together with 
the other one. 

Phillips smiled. — That hand might seem a great burden to you, Mr. 
Burns, but in this case it could be the means of your freedom. The warrant 
is loosely drawn and merely describes your affliction as a scar. It is in- 
adequate, and a legal point for our side. Also the part about your com- 
plexion. Mr. Ellis, the man who fought for your postponement, is very 
dark and so was Daniel Webster. The description could fit either of them 
fully as well as you. These two points alone weaken the case against you. 
The only strong thing they have is that you said you wanted to go back. 
We know that isn't true. Mr. Pitts says so too. 

Tony sat in silence for a moment. He was beginning to lose track of 
what he had said and what he hadn't. His best weapon was not what he 
said or would say but was a cultivated dourness which he had always used 
as a kind of resistance. It gave him an appearance of limited and torpid 
intelligence. It saved him from being hired out to people he didn't like 
and from being given a hard job, way beyond the scope of his duty as a 
slave to a master. He decided to drop this mask to Wendell Phillips. 

— I never said I wanted to go back. I'm no more afraid of being sold 
deep South now than I was before. I don't like to go back because of my 
hand. I can't do rough work. And when I fail I'll be beaten and it ain't 


my fault. I got no use for Colonel Suttle. He's all right when he's feeling 
fine but he's a devil when he's riled up. 

He said these things slowly, with deliberation, and when he had finished 
he shut his mouth. He decided not to say any more but to try this much 
and see what happened. 

Phillips thought this was enough too. He didn't want to know too 
much about the man, just enough for a defense, enough to allow the 
committee to fight for him. He handed him a paper that he and Dana 
had prepared. — Can you read this? he asked. 

Tony nodded and read it aloud. Coffin looked proudly around as Tony 
said all the words plainly: — Anthony Burns the alleged fugitive stated 
to us that the statement that he wished or was willing to be returned to 
slavery is a lie. That he never stated this to any person and that he has 
given full power under his hand and seal to Wendell Phillips and Richard 
Dana and has requested them to act as his attorneys and do everything in 
their power to save him. 

After Tony had signed, Phillips gave the pencil to Coffin Pitts to sign 
as a witness. Coffin was nervous and embarrassed and fumbled for a pair 
of old spectacles he had on a shoelace around his neck. Phillips turned his 
back on him and called Mr. Grimes over to the window. Tony took the 
paper from Coffin and wrote his name on it and Coffin added his mark. 
— See how I need you, son, he said. 

Phillips and Coffin left then but Mr. Grimes stayed on. He sat in the 
chair again and looked at Tony. Finally he had to break the silence him- 

— Why are you angry at me, Mr. Burns ? 

— It was that letter, the letter I wrote home to my pastor to git into 
your church, that got me caught. If I hadn't writ the letter I wouldn't be 
here. That's why I lay my trouble down to you. I lay it at the church 
door for being here. 

— The Lord forgive us, said Grimes. — That isn't what brought you 
into trouble. It was the letter you sent your sister. They've known about 
you for some months now, and you just wrote the church letter two 
weeks ago. Mr. Brent opened the letter to your sister in the post office, 
and read about you being here with Deacon Pitts. 

Tony gaped. — But I had it sent from Canada. It was postmarked 

— They open all letters to slaves, son. Don't matter where they come 

After a moment of reflection Tony smiled at Mr. Grimes. It was his 


faith coming back in some small measure. But Mr. Grimes wasn't happy. 
He now understood Tony's baffling silence and submission. He saw it was 
an unnecessary submission. 

— Mr. Burns, did you write, did they ask you to write anything down 
while you've been up here ? 

— Yes, said Tony. — I just wrote a little note to say that Colonel Suttle 
didn't break my hand and make it useless. 

— Who's got it, Mr. Hallett? 

— No, that fellow over there. He pointed to Augerhole. 

— I must advise you to get it back, said Mr. Grimes for his farewell. 

When the meeting of the Vigilance Committee reconvened, Parker laid 
his gavel down and looked up at the five men standing for the privilege 
of the floor. — You, sir, he said. — The chair recognizes the gentleman to 
the left with the Shakespearean beard and the Biblical hair. 

— My name is Dr. Howe, said the man. — Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe 
of East Boston. 

— You haven't told the half of it, Sam, said Parker. — Also director 
and founder and guiding spirit of the Perkins Institute for the Blind, 
teacher of the deaf and dumb, reclaimer of idiots, editor of the Common- 
wealth, veteran of the Greek War for Independence, Chevalier of the 
French Legion of Honor. 

— Don't forget the five months I spent in that Prussian prison. 

— Oh no . . . but not as a shoplifter or a train-wrecker, I hasten to add, 
but for bringing aid and comfort to Polish refugees in Prussia. Doesn't 
that cover it, Doctor? 

— Yes, thank you, Mr. Chairman. I like to have people know where 
I stand and what I stand for ahead of time so that if they get mixed up 
with me they'll have no one to blame but themselves. 

— Yes, Doctor. I think it's about time we spoke out a little. Proceed 
with your recommendations. 

Parker sat and leaned back to study the faces of the listeners. He knew 
what the doctor's plan was. It was to assemble a huge mass in the square 
outside the Courthouse. To jam it tight, swiftly, and just when the fugi- 
tive was being brought out to be carried away. Then a small squad would 
wrest him away from his guards and smuggle him out of the crowd while 
his captors were held, unharmed but immobilized by the mighty press of 
the crowd. 


It was a good plan, Parker thought, and he hoped that the committee 
would adopt it. He next recognized Dr. Bowditch, who was going to 
second the motion. 

— Mr. Chairman: My name is Henry Ingersoll Bowditch. I live at 
Otis Place in Boston, Massachusetts. 

— Very well, Henry. Would you like to have me give your degrees or 
your pedigrees? . . . Mr. Bowditch holds degrees in medicine from Har- 
vard and the Sorbonne in Paris. His father was the great navigator, 
Nathaniel — 

— Mr. Chairman, interrupted Bowditch, — I realize you are mak- 
ing a special point of naming names and so forth, but I would rather 
skip over my own unimportant one and read a message from a man 
who is known and loved wherever English is spoken and poetry is 
read. I have a letter here from the beloved Quaker Bard, John Green- 
leaf Whittier, which I should like to read with the Chairman's per- 

— Well, Doctor, it's a little difficult to introduce a Quaker into a fight, 
but you have the floor. Say whatever you like. 

— Mr. Chairman, I want to second the proposal that Dr. Howe has 
made. And I also want to say that we mustn't think of it as just Boston. 
I mean, we don't have to depend on just Boston people, where some of 
them are known, and might not want to show themselves in this thing, 
but people from all over the state will be there. That's why I want to read 
this letter. We all know what Whittier stands for. He's not violent, or 
bloody or self-seeking . . . Well, I guess none of us are that . . . But 
I mean when he wants to fight . . . Well, I guess things are pretty bad. I 
know I'm not putting this very well, I'm not an orator, but I'll read the 
letter anyway. 

Dear Dr. Bowditch: 

That man must not be sent out of Boston as a slave. Anything 
but that. The whole people must be called out. The country must 
precipitate itself upon the city, an avalanche of freemen. Where are 
your circulars and expresses ? In the name of God, let the people be 
summoned. Send out the fiery crosses without delay. Tell us what 
you want and what we can do. Thousands are waiting the word 
from you. If you want the country to march into Boston, say so at 
once. If a man is to be sacrificed to Moloch, let the people witness 
it. Thine truly, 

J. G. Whittier 


Dr. Bowditch laid the letter on the Chairman's desk. — We have also 
received letters from Mr. Emerson and Mr. Thoreau of Concord and from 
Mr. Horace Mann. 

As he took his seat he heard someone say, — Radicals. All radicals. 

Parker tapped the gavel. — Please address the chair if you have some- 
thing to say. He pointed at the man. — What was your comment, sir ? 

The man got up, red-faced and embarrassed. — I said that they were all 
radicals, Mr. Chairman. 

— Yes, said Parker. — They are. Any further remarks? If not, I will 
close the discussion and call for a vote on the proposal. 

But then Thomas Wentworth Higginson got up to take the floor and 
Parker sat down again with an indefinable foreboding. Higginson was 
much older than he looked. He bubbled about things, talked incessantly 
of books and flowers and friends. He considered himself a disciple of 
Parker's. He had a church in Worcester, modeled on Parker's, and a 
refuge for come-outers and radicals. He was tall and slender with a cameo 
line and tint to his jaw and cheeks. His hair was worn long and, as he 
spoke, he dashed it back off his well-shaped cheekbones. He was a man 
who invariably aroused distrust in others by his complete sincerity. He 
waved gracefully at the back of the hall. 

— Why haven't we had some words from our Negro members? I'd 
like to hear what Lewis Hayden has to offer. 

Lewis Hayden was a stocky, heavy-muscled man. He had been arrested, 
tried and acquitted by one vote in the Shadrach case, which had given 
him a strong following among his own people. To look at Lewis was to 
see above all a smile, rare in a day of tobacco chewers, which revealed 
the unforgettable symmetry of two rows of white teeth, fresh and ap- 
parently imperishable under the worn and wrinkling pulp of his aging 
face. In almost every smile there is an atavistic hint of baring fangs, but 
with Lewis the sudden spread of white in the coal-black face was a sunny 
heart-warming flash in all circumstances. Even when he was sad he smiled 
as if he asked no one to bear his burden but sent back in thanks the im- 
plied goodness of the other's intentions or interest. And so he smiled 
brightly and shook his head ruefully as he answered Higginson. 

— I'm afraid we can't count on my people in numbers just now, sir. 
This slave bill and the Shadrach case have scattered them pretty wide. 
Over fifty of my closest friends have lit out for Canada in the last six 
months. They want me to come but I reckon I'll stand the storm. I won't 
promise anyone else, but you can call on me for anything you want. 

— We'll do nothing of the kind, Lewis, said Parker. — You've been 


through the courts already. We won't put you in double jeopardy. Let 
some of the rest of us carry the load. 

— It's my load, Mr. Parker, said Lewis, flashing again. 

— No more than anyone else's. Now you keep out of this. If Ben Hal- 
lett sees you with any of us it'll be the kiss of death. 

The crowd laughed. Lewis kept his feet, looking a little mite puzzled 
at Parker. But then Parker winked at him and he sat down, reassured. 

Higginson bounced to his feet again. He had been laughing and ap- 
plauding, looking around at Lewis, but now he stood silently for a mo- 
ment, waiting for the eddy of amusement to die down. 

— I suppose it is strange to most of us here to have to lower our voices 
and conceal our purposes. But in every man there is some untamable 
gypsy element which will give us sympathy with desperate adventure. 
All we can ask of fate, as it winds up our drab lives, is an occasion worth 
bursting the door for, a chance to get beyond this boys' play. Let us not 
have our lives frittered away in little cares and efforts for the sick, sad 
and sinful. Let us burst this door tonight, the door of the Boston Court- 
house, and set ourselves free, as we liberate the man, from our petty bond- 
age to law and order. 

He stopped and looked around. Faces were a bit glum. He went on, 
shaking his hair back between sentences with confident, well-born as- 

— I know there are many law-and-order men here. They threw cold 
water on our plan to rescue Sims three years ago. But we are wiser today 
and can do better. Let the deed be quickly done, tonight, under the 
friendly cover of darkness. And if there are not enough Boston men to 
do it, the train from Worcester will bring two hundred men. 

For the first time, there was hearty applause. He didn't know it but 
it wasn't support but surrender to Worcester. These men would applaud 
them to the limit, that was the safest way to support them. 

— Good, said Higginson, sure of victory now. — We are moving at 
last. I know there is danger in this enterprise but there is no other way. 
Cast off the drag lines of civilization and taste again the honest zest of 
savage life! The man caught down the bay in a sudden squall with the 
wind and tide against him feels again the old exultation of our Viking 
forefathers as they balanced their lives on their oars. All the rest of exist- 
ence I would give for one such hour! 

There was more applause as he sat down. Parker thought they were 
applauding the speaker rather than the speech. He saw a well-dressed, 
prosperous, sharp-looking man getting up. 

8 4 

— Mr. Chairman, said the man. — My name is John J. Botume, Junior. 
That's spelled with a U. I'm a merchant and I expect most everybody 
here has been into my store once or twice. I've been a member of this 
committee since it started and I don't give a damn who knows it. 

He stood in thought for a moment, then got out of the aisle in which 
he was sitting and came to the front of the floor to look the rest square 
in the eye. 

— I've never been to one of these meetings before but I must say my 
impressions are favorable. Everybody's had a fair chance to speak their 
mind and I'm going to speak mine. You may not like it but I'm going 
to lay the cash on the barrelhead, so to speak. 

The people began to hitch toward the edge of their chairs. It was a 
critical point, the critical point of the day. Mr. John Botume realized it 
himself and he let the folks get set for his deliberations. 

— Don't charge that Courthouse! I went scouting around there this 
noontime, and I seen Louis Varelli's gang take over up there. We've had 
a young man speak here a while ago. He's an educated, well-read young 
man and I believe I can say he's a fine young man, but people like us 
don't charge a granite courthouse because of the gypsies in our hearts. The 
only gypsies I ever knew stole my entire set of winter drawers off my 
clothesline last fall and I don't want no part of them. I think we'd better 
wind up this meeting and go home. Perhaps we can take the fugitive 
after he leaves town, at the Worcester station or even in New York. 
You'll never get him out of the Courthouse. 

The applause was great as he sat down. Parker observed without sur- 
prise that the same ones that had clapped for Higginson had honored 
Mr. Botume. The meeting was a failure, he could see that now. It might 
have been due to his conduct as a chairman. He should have rigged the 
meeting before it began, made sure the right people would say the right 
things. He could see the group letting down before his eyes. They had 
arrived in grim, self-conscious determination. They had made friendly 
contact with one another and felt no longer alone in their indignation. 
They had recited their petty triumphs. They had offered up their doubts 
and reservations. He had thought the noon recess would purge them, 
that they would come back clean sheets on which to inscribe a plan of 
action. What happened? Ben Hallett had checked him by moving the 
thugs into the Courthouse. That must have been it. He saw Dr. Howe 
get up. If the doctor would now calmly and coolly re-state his plan of 
rescue outside the Courthouse, in the open square, it might go. Dr. Howe 
must be unemotional, must steer carefully between the overpositive and 


the negative proposals on the floor. Higginson had pulled the thing too 
much to one side and then the merchant, with a great heave, had got it 
off base entirely. — Be careful, Sam, he murmured, as he recognized him. 
Sam got up and ran his fingers through his great stand of hair. He 
pulled at his knight's beard with shaking fingers. He was overaroused. 
He overspoke. 

— Good God, shouted Howe, — let's not go away and leave things like 
this! Let's say No, No, the man shall not go out of Boston, even if we 
only get a band of fifty to lie down in the streets and say the man shall 
not go out into slavery unless they drag him over our bodies. I will pledge 
myself as one. How many others will join me? 

He brought up his hand with a jerk. Parker lifted his. Tom Higginson, 
Austin Bearse, Dr. Bowditch and Lewis Hayden were the only others. 
Dr. Howe sat down slowly, looking around from right to left, wonder- 
ing why the meeting had shrunk to such a little measure. 

— If there are no further remarks, Parker said, — I should like to sum 
up. And after my summary, I am going to call for an action committee, 
and all who wish to take action, remain. The rest are dismissed. 

Mr. Botume got to his feet and started for the door. No one came after 
him. He paused there and then slipped into an empty seat as Parker 

— I was surprised to find so much bickering and empty chatter in this 
meeting. I had assumed that we were as one on this question. I will be 
charitable, however, and judge that it is the method and not the purpose 
of the plan that is causing this lack of cohesion. It is true we should have 
met more often. It is three years now since we have come together on this 
cause and we are unprepared. But I think we should now exclude from 
this committee everyone who does not consider it his natural duty to 
rescue every fugitive from the hands of the Marshal who essays to return 
him to bondage . . . peaceably if they can, forcibly if they must. 

Some lawyer got up. He didn't give his name. He considered himself 
somewhat of a parliamentarian. — Point of order, Mr. Chairman. I don't 
think the chair has any right to read people out of this committee without 
a vote of the whole. As a lawyer, I think I can help these unfortunates 
without breaking the law. As I am committed by my profession to observe 
the law and be a public example thereto, I consider the chairman owes 
it to his profession to discourage violence. What if someone is killed by 
this? How can you maintain your conscience if you break God's com- 
mandment ? 

As he sat down, the meeting shifted nervously in their seats, pitying 


him. They looked slyly at Parker, waiting for him to redden in the face 
and lash out. But Parker was calm and his voice was deep and serene. 

— The Constitution is wrong, sir, about this law, and it must be 
changed. If such things are sanctioned by the Bible, then it is wrong too 
and I reject it. I am not a man who loves violence or gypsies. I respect 
the sacredness of human life. But I swear I will break this law whenever 
I see it enforced. I have made no secret of this oath. I have shouted it from 
the housetops. I will resist the kidnaper as gently as I know how, but with 
such strength as I can command. I will ring bells and alarm the town. 
I will serve as hand, head or foot, or lay my body down in the street with 
any gathering of earnest men who will go with me. I will do it as readily 
as I would lift a man out of the water or pluck him from the teeth of a 
wolf. What is professional reputation, fines or jails to the liberty of a man? 
My money perish with me if it stands between me and the eternal law of 
God. There are enough men in this room to secure the freedom of every 
slave in Boston without rending a garment or breaking a limb. When are 
we going to show Slavery that we are in earnest ? 

There was no telling what might have happened after this. It was a deep 
challenge and deeply felt but just after the words had got down and began 
to burn in the bellies of the listeners, the janitor of the hall began to ham- 
mer on the door. When Austin opened it, he said, — Colonel Suttle is com- 
ing up the street. Why don't you fellows go after him ? 

John Botume pushed the door open and went out. This started a run 
and others went. To point a finger of scorn at the slave catchers, they 
told Austin as they trampled past. It was a release for them and an easy 
resolution of the whole problem to stand then on the hot bricks of the side- 
walk and look the Colonel right in the eye as he and William Brent 
walked gingerly up to the Common to observe the eclipse of the sun or- 
dained for the day. 

It was at this time that Phillips got to the meeting. He found less than 
twenty discouraged men there. — What happened? he said, when he came 
in the door. — Where is everybody? 

— The janitor said them out of the committee, answered Higginson. 
His pun went unappreciated. 

Parker got down from the little platform and began to move the empty 
chairs into a circle. 

— What are you doing? asked Phillips. — Is it all over? 

— Just scaling the committee down to size, said Parker wearily, — and 
the chairman along with it. Let's all sit here. There's no call to keep up 
with the parliamentarians any more. 


The people remaining sat in a circle around Parker. The musicians were 
still there. They had brought their lunches and had practiced during the 

— How are you coming with Dana? Parker asked Phillips quietly. 

— Slowly. He insisted I bring him a power of attorney from Burns. 

— Got it? asked Parker. Phillips showed him the folded paper. 

— Good, stay on his tail, from the looks of this he's our only hope. 
Parker looked around at the shrunken committee. 

— I won't keep you people much longer. Our day has been a failure, 
I'm afraid. Perhaps we tried to move too fast, I don't know, but we have 
nothing to fall back on now but the meeting tonight and Richard Dana's 
legal skill. It's too bad this happened. I thought for a while there we had 
some unity, some force. 

— If I could have got my Worcester men to come this morning, things 
would have worked out, said Higginson. — But we hired a special train 
and our plans were made. 

— I don't think we can depend on the Worcester men, said Phillips, 
— or anyone outside of a few people on this committee. I think an action 
committee of six is big enough to handle this whole thing. 

— All right, said Parker. — I'll appoint you, Wendell, Captain Bearse, 
Dr. Howe, myself, Dr. Bowditch . . . He paused. — And Tom Higgin- 
son. Doctor, I suggest you draw up some resolutions for the meeting to- 
night. One in particular should embody that plan of yours that we meet 
in the square in the morning and jam the man out of their hands. We'll 
work out the details later. Just a word or two . . . When this meeting 
adjourns, it adjourns to meet in Court Square tomorrow morning . . . 
et cetera, et cetera. 

— Let's go tonight, after the meeting, said Tom impatiently, — and get 
it over with. 

— No, Phillips said. — I'm against fighting in the dark. Let the people 
see the man brought out in the sun. Let them see the evil in the sun. If 
you're afraid of the city police, I don't think they'll raise a finger. 

Tom got up angrily and walked away from the group. He was ob- 
sessed with a plan to attack that night. He couldn't keep quiet until the 
next day. He had made up his mind and he had two hundred men from 
Worcester coming. It would be simple to send the people from the meeting 
to the Courthouse. If the speakers were any good, they would drive them 

Parker stood up looking over at Tom. — Now let's not have any more 
bickering. Let's not lose our heads. I'll go along with any plan that's of- 

fered, I'll step aside as chairman, but I insist on agreement amongst our- 
selves. Tell me what you want, Tom, don't sulk. You can have anything 
within reason. 

Higginson walked back to the group. — I want another man added to 
the action committee. His name is Martin Stowell and he rescued a slave 
in Syracuse. Maybe we can find someone who knows what to do. 

— Of course, anyone that can help. Anyone that can lead. But let's keep 
our heads, for God's sake. And now, the Committee of the Whole stands 

When Tony took up again his familiar place at the window, he was 
mystified by the sudden loss of light from the sky. There were no clouds 
but the darkness was saturating, like drops of ink in a pail of clear water, 
the clear dome above him. He tried to draw on the new comfort of know- 
ing that his church had not betrayed him. But the taut wings of his spirit 
could not fly into exuberance. There was a weight there, the task Mr. 
Grimes had put on him as he left. The weight of the note. 

He had really been lifted, not into peace of mind but to a perplexing 
level of resistance. He did not want to stay there. He looked around at 
Augerhole: Augerhole, with his triple-fleshed face of red skin, yellow 
scabs and jellied sweat, his thin shoulders and legs and his slack, pro- 
tuberant belly; the vortex and delta of all his dreams and appetites . . . 
Now he knew Augerhole was evil and frightening, there in the waning 
light. Evil were his fold-rimmed eyes, dark slits of secrecy; and his face 
was a pus-stained banner of endless, deliberate corruption. 

Get bac\ the note, Mr. Grimes had said. Get bac\ the note . . . Tony 
turned away with a shudder, putting off the encounter, hoping the com- 
pulsion to act against evil would wear off with the light in the sky. 

But soon Augerhole was at his elbow. Tony smelled him and swung 
around. Augerhole spoke in an angry whisper. — Did yez tell them about 
the note? 

— I want it back, blurted Tony. — I want the note back. 

His voice, ringing with innocent fear, filled the room and the card- 
players paused and looked over at him. This is a bad thing, Tony thought 
instantly, I should have tricked him, said I want it back to change it or 
add to it. Now I have put him on his guard. I had better drop this attempt 
and try later. 

So it had put Augerhole on his guard, but not against Tony. He was 
more fearful of the other men in the room learning about the note and 

8 9 

demanding a share of the bribe. He stepped close to Tony, pulled out the 
paper and held it up to him. — Be quiet, he said. — They'll make trouble 
over there if they know I'm trying to help you. 

He let Tony finger the bait while he sought for words of appeasement. 
The cardplayers began to lose interest. Tony had the note by the corner. 
Augerhole began to speak swiftly in a hoarse and sugary whisper. — I'll 
do you no harm with the Colonel in any case. He's willing to forgive and 
forget. He's going to buy you a new suit for this. 

— It's not signed with my name yet, Tony whispered, to excuse his 
blunt demand. Augerhole reluctantly let go of his corner, at the same time 
holding Tony's arm tightly and putting all his weight against him. Tony 
looked down and saw his eyes, as he now remembered, were not deep 
slits of powerful evil but pale, watery and cowardly. Their pupils were 
rolled desperately to the corners, watching in fear for the approach of one 
of the other guards. 

At this instant of revelation; of his antagonist's fear and of the power 
of his bold demand to shatter secrecy, the armor of evil, Tony made a 
strong lunge away from Augerhole's clasping hand and body press. He 
began to tear the note. Suddenly it was dark as pitch. Augerhole stooped 
and pulled something from his boot. Tony pushed him away in panic. 
Augerhole held his weapon no higher than his hip. It did not glitter like a 
knife. It was an old round file sharpened to a pin point. But before he 
could close in again, one of the guards hit his shoulder and spun him 

— Lay of?, Batchelder, growled Augerhole. 

— Leave the darky alone, said Batchelder. — He's got enough trouble. 
Augerhole lurched toward Tony. Batchelder hit him hard. He was off 

balance and he fell heavily to the floor, landing on his rump with a head- 
snapping thud. The cardplayers guffawed. Augerhole slid his weapon 
back into his boot. — You shouldn't have done that, he said, wiping his 
sweaty hands on his haunches. — You shouldn't have hit me in front of 
the nigger. You had no call to hit me in front of the nigger. 

Batchelder laughed, reached out his hand and hauled Augerhole to his 
feet. Tony tore up the note and suddenly the light grew in the sky and 
made flecks of brightness out of the scraps as they floated to the earth 

It was reported to Ben Hallett that a large group of men had come out 
of Tremont Temple and hissed at Colonel Suttle on his way to observe the 


eclipse of the sun on the Common. Ben took this as good news, in a way, 
and went at once with Marshal Watson Freeman to the Mayor's office. 

The Mayor, Jerome V. C. Smith, was a doctor. He said he was going 
to carry out his office with the impersonal precision of a surgeon. His office 
was uncluttered with the usual pictures and trophies of the professional 
politico. On his immaculately kept desk stood his round black bag, filled 
with herbs, purges and unguents. 

The Mayor had a continual worried look in his eye caused by the op- 
posing pull of his two professions. He had left many a municipal crisis 
to deliver a baby, and was kindly regarded for his forgetfulness toward 
due bills around election time. His double life had stamped itself upon his 
features. His eye sockets were perfect triangles and his thin black eyebrows 
rose in a straight oblique line from his cheekbones to meet over his nose. 
This gave him a sad-dog look. The right eye looked soft and concerned, 
as a doctor's should. But the sadness of the left eye was corrupted by a 
drooping, politician's lid, suggesting covert scheming and suspiciousness. 
He had straggling chin whiskers and his lower lip was pressed hard against 
his protruding teeth, making a repetition of the same angle as his eyebrows 
in the shadow above his shriveled chin. His hair was mainly contained in 
one Napoleonic bang. 

He hated professional politicians and showed it when Ben came into his 
office. He got up at once, not offering Ben a chair, and said: — I know 
what you're after, Ben Hallett, and I want to tell you right now that 
you're wasting your time. 

— Pray don't excite yourself, Mr. Mayor, said Ben smoothly. — We've 
come to beg no favors of you, sir. The United States government is capable 
of carrying out its own tasks. 

— I'm against what you're doing, Ben. I don't like the idea of that man 
kept in a city courthouse. When are you going to get him out of there? 

— That depends on you, Mr. Mayor. The Marshal and I have completed 
our part of the job. Now it's up to you. 

— What's up to me ? 

— Keeping the peace, Mayor Smith. 

— That's a fine one from you two. We were peaceful enough up to last 

— Just a minute, Mayor Smith, said Ben. — I haven't asked you as a 
United States Officer for a single man. They're all bought and paid for. 
But I'm a citizen of Boston and I demand that you keep the streets free of 
mobs and rioters. 

— I didn't see any mobs about. 

9 1 

— You didn't see this, either. Ben passed him Parker's broadside. 

— I know all about it. I was thinking of appearing there myself. And I 
might yet if you don't stop pestering me. 

— They wouldn't have you there, Dr. Smith. If your name were Howe 
or Bowditch and you had a police record, you might be welcome, but a 
pill-rolling vote-catcher is of no use to them. 

— I warn you, Ben. I'll denounce you from the platform if you keep 
this up. 

Ben turned to the Marshal with a sneer. — I can see he's aspiring for a 
place among the small wits of the infidel army. 

Marshal Freeman laughed dutifully. 

Ben turned back to the Mayor. — Too bad, Dr. Smith. I don't think 
you'll be allowed to start your apprenticeship tonight. General Parker will 
be there and I'll wager you ten to one that at least three of them will com- 
mit treason in thought, word and deed. 

— Treason, said the Mayor, gulping down a bubble of fear. 

— If you don't believe me, send a man over to take down what they 
say. They've had a thousand men meeting in Tremont Temple all day 
long. There's a loft on State Street stocked with enough food and arms 
to supply a regiment. Take a little free legal advice and stay away from 
that hall. And I repeat, as a citizen I call on you to use the police force of 
this city to keep the peace and the streets free of riots. And if they can't 
handle it, we have some other plans that may cause you even more concern. 
Good afternoon, Mr. Mayor. 

The Mayor sat in frightened silence a long while and then he called 
Chief Taylor to the office and told him to cover, the meeting and take down 
all that was said. 

Wendell Phillips, still resolutely following his theme in the driving 
counterpoint of the day, finally laid the power of attorney before Richard 
Dana and asked him again to take the case. 

Dana, as if nothing had gone on before, said he was very happy to do so. 
— Our first step, he said, is to apply to Judge Sprague for a writ on 
Marshal Freeman of de homine replegiando. 

Coffin Pitts, who had dogged along with Phillips since the middle of 
the afternoon, said plaintively that he thought Loring was the Judge. 

Phillips explained to him that a writ of replevin was a legal device to 
provide the opening wedge for a lot of shenanigans to delay the case and 
the Commissioner's decision. 


— I can't see the good of it, said Coffin sadly. — I thought the first thing 
was to see Tony and find out how he can help defend himself. 

Phillips was himself in agreement with that. He turned to Dana and 
said, — Do you think an appeal for a replevin will do any good ? I know 
you're a good sea lawyer, but I don't think we have time for that sort of 

— I'm not a sea lawyer in the terms you imply, Wendell, said Dana 
tartly. — And there are some things that must be understood at the start 
of this affair. Some people seem to think that I am a bit of a rough because 
I spent two rather well-advertised years before the mast. There might be 
a little of that behind the decision of your committee to engage me. Let 
me assure you that I have not the least desire to take this on because of 
any spirit of adventure or excitement. I am acting, like yourself, because 
I am of the stock of the old Northern gentry and feel to my very bones a 
particular dislike to any subserviency on the part of our people to the slave- 
holding oligarchy. I am not an Abolitionist. I am a constitutionalist, in 
favor of adhering honestly to all the compromises of that instrument. If the 
South could come to court with clean hands and present a case consistent 
with law, decency and our own Northern self-respect, I would be willing 
to send back a bona fide fugitive. 

— I thought you were a Free-soiler at least, Richard, said Phillips apolo- 

— I am, and my business has suffered greatly because of it. He smiled 
and said more lightly, — Where an Abolitionist is looked upon as a com- 
mon enemy of mankind, a Free-soiler is judged a little less harshly as a 
weak and illogical kind of Abolitionist. 

— I'm sorry you took my remark amiss, Richard. 

— It's just as well. I like to declare myself. I'm a conservative, make no 
mistake on that. The spindle and the day books are against us just now 
for Free-soilism goes to the wrong side of the ledger. The blood, the let- 
ters and the plow are our chief reliance. And the law; you may sneer at it, 
Wendell, but we still have the law. 

— I assure you, Richard, I have no intention of sneering. I know what 
you've sacrificed. You're our best lawyer, our best friend. We'd rather have 
you on our side than Choate. Why ever did you think . . . ? 

Dana smiled and held up his hand. — I have inflicted a pretty heavy 
penalty upon you for a word, and without a jury, too. 

— Save it for Judge Loring, I beg of you. 

— And now if you gentlemen will excuse me for a moment, said Dana, 
— I will get my things together and we will see Judge Sprague at once. I 


have an idea where he is dining tonight and we might catch him at his 
first glass of wine. 

Dana began rummaging around in an enormous closet for some papers. 
Pitts said to Phillips in a discouraged monotone, — It don't look to me 
like he's got his heart in this job. 

— He's got his brain, Mr. Pitts, and it's the best around for this work, 
said Phillips softly. 

The Worcester train flung itself headlong into the station just after six. 
It was a so-called "accommodation train," cut-rate and out-of-schedule, and 
it wasted no time on the amenities. The brakes came on with a shriek, 
the three cars slugged against each other and the cone-shaped stack gushed 
jets of smoke to cloud out the blackened rafters. 

Higginson, who had been waiting nearly an hour in a vertigo of im- 
patience, stood close to the huge wheels. His hungry ears soaked up the 
hard bright tempo of the clanging bell. He got as close as he could to the 
engine, almost nuzzling its hot, sweaty flanks which were trembling with 
brute force. 

The station was a big, rough shed with a false facade of two granite 
towers winged by flying buttresses, and topped with jag-toothed battle- 
ments. It was a cool, dark, airy place, where pigeons flew happier than 
under the sun when the train was not there; but when the iron bull roared 
in, they wheeled and swooped in panic, out through the weathered frames 
of windows without glass and the slabs of the sides, and the roof of the 
shed vibrated with the thunder in its bosom. 

The Worcester men swung and dropped from the cars, not setting care- 
ful foot of? like travelers. Tom got closer to the hot breath of the engine. 
He didn't want a demonstration of any kind there in the station. He 
wanted them to go straight to the rendezvous chosen. He wanted to see 
Martin Stowell first, and alone. 

He tried to count them as they walked by in excited clumps. There were 
three cars. That meant one hundred and fifty at the most. He didn't see 
Martin in the rush of the impetuous or even now with the sedately tread- 
ing older men. When they stopped passing and a gap came on the plat- 
form, he wondered if he had missed him in the throng. By now, the taste 
of fire and brimstone was heavy on his tongue. Some valve in the interior 
of the machine opened suddenly and let out a great gush of steam. He 
stepped back. It was like a wet, hot rag over his open eyes. When it lifted, 


Martin Stowell was standing there in his black suit and his black stock 
with the white tips of his high collar standing up to his ears. 

Martin Stowell was a small, frail man and he looked it more than 
ever against the bulk of the engine. He took off his big hat and began 
to arrange the black strands of side hair that the heat had caused to 
curl away from his bare, white skull. He felt his crown carefully, pat- 
ting the hair over the skin. Another valve shot off a stream of air, and 
Martin headed his scalp into the wind like a yachtsman, chary of every 

Higginson looked down with relief and respect at the bulging brow of 
marble white. To a man of his height, Martin was a tapering top, broad 
in the brain with foreshortened legs. He put his hand affectionately on 
Stowell's narrow shoulders. 

— You should have come this morning, Martin, said Tom. — The meet- 
ing of the committee was a fiasco. We arrived at no plan of action what- 
soever. . . . We couldn't even unite in a common purpose. The majority 
solved it by going out and pointing the finger of scorn at the slave catcher 
as he chanced to walk by the hall. 

— I'm very much pressed for time, said Stowell sadly, in his neat and 
precise bookkeeper's voice. — The Temperance League has prepared forty 
or fifty cases for the Grand Jury on rum selling and some house of ill 
fame. I should be back in Worcester now, and tomorrow at the very latest, 
to make plans for housing the witnesses. They'll have to pay their own 
board, I'm afraid. 

— Bother the rum sellers, Martin. That can wait. We've got to rescue 
this man. 

— But that's my job, said Stowell, — and it has cost the League a great 
deal of time and money to prepare these cases. However, we might be able 
to do something tonight, and I can get back to Worcester in time to meet 
the Reverend Mr. Bosworth. 

The train bell was ringing loudly, and Higginson thought he didn't 
quite catch what Martin had said so calmly. He waited for a moment 
timed between clangs. — What can we do tonight? 

— Why, get the man out of the Courthouse. Isn't that what we're here 

The engine gave a thunderous, derisive-sounding snort from the stack 
and then another and then another, and Tom could see the small wheels 
in front start to move. He began to walk along with it, carried along with 
its motion. He picked up his pace as the big wheels rolled and he, Martin, 
and the engine came into the bright sunlight together. The train turned 


of? to the turntable and Higginson lengthened his stride with elation. 
Martin had to take two steps to his one, but it was refreshing to both to 
walk fast and shake off the noise and stink of the station. 

— Let's walk through the Common, Tom said. — It's funny you should 
mention attacking the Courthouse tonight. I suggested it to the committee, 
and they turned it down. They seem to think the best plan is to get him 
tomorrow morning when he's brought out for the rendition. 

— I don't like to wait until tomorrow, Mr. Higginson. Why can't we 
rush the Courthouse tonight? It would be much better under the cover of 

— That was my exact plan, said Tom excitedly, — and it would have 
been carried if you had been there to back me up. We should use the force 
built up at that meeting, right after it, before it is dissipated. 

— Not after the meeting. After the meeting, everyone at the Courthouse 
would be expecting an attack. It should be done during the meeting. Not 
in cold blood, but when the crowd is raised to a pitch. Then they could be 
sent running to the Courthouse and swarm in. 

— Excellent, said Higginson. — You're the commander we've been 
waiting for. What about the doors? Suppose they're closed? 

— Well, they're only wooden doors, aren't they? We can batter them 
down with a beam or a piece of eight-by-eight, and some axes. Surprise 
is a powerful weapon. I think we could take them by surprise. But you 
must have the meeting under control, and send them on time. 

— We'll have Phillips make the speech and at the end ask them to 
adjourn to the Courthouse. 

— We'll have some agreed signal. Someone planted in the audience will 
give the signal, so he'll know when to make the motion. 

— I know just the man. There's a young lawyer by the name of John 
Swift here. He has a voice like a bull. I'm sure he'll do it. Oh, I can see 
a great light on everything. The crowd will come pouring out at the sig- 
nal and run up to the Courthouse. 

— We've got to work fast. We'll need someone to go to the Courthouse 
before the rest, in case the doors are shut, and get a battering ram and the 
axes. Can we get about twenty men to make the breach ? 

— You and I can get five apiece from Worcester, surely. Lewis Hayden 
can get five Negroes and Bearse, five seamen. I'm supposed to be on the 
platform tonight but I'd much rather do this. 

At Brimstone Corner, Higginson bumped into a man who had been 
at the meeting in the afternoon. He told them that the Courthouse was to 
be open that night because of a hung jury on a Superior Court case. 


— Now we won't need the axes, he said to Stowell, as they resumed 
their walk. 

— Get them anyway. We can't be sure the jury won't come in before 
the time for the attack. 

— Well, we can use this point to override the objections of the commit- 
tee, anyhow. 

— You'd better straighten it out with them, Stowell said. — We can't 
do this alone. 

— I will, promised Higginson. — I'll see them on the way into the hall 
in one of the anterooms. I'm sure I can convince them. How can they re- 
fuse? The plan is perfect. 

They went into a hardware store. The clerk said there were no axes in 
stock, so they bought a case of cleavers and had them put into a cab. Hig- 
ginson told the man he was from the western part of the state and that his 
name was Higgins. Stowell did not even blink at the lie. They sent the 
cab to the office of Dr. Channing on State Street. Later, they got a ten- 
foot length of eight-by-eight and hid it across the street from the west 
door of the Courthouse. 

They joined the Worcester men at the rallying point and explained the 
plan to them. Fifteen agreed to join in the attack. Higginson left all de- 
tails in Stowell's hands and went to Faneuil Hall. 

Higginson counted the steps from the Courthouse to Faneuil Hall, stab- 
bing the ground with his umbrella as he walked. It was a good thing to 
know. Parker would ask him that when the new plan was put. It was 
further than it looked, because the door faced toward the Harbor and 
away from Court Square. He cheated a little, his legs were longer than 
most, and as he neared the end of the trail pace he quickened his stride 
in his excitement and continued at a dogtrot up the stairs to the Hall, over 
the market stalls. He stepped inside. He knew he should stay there awhile 
and calmly weigh his plan all over again, but the place looked small as all 
public places do when there are no people there and it depressed him. 
Could this contain the plan, he wondered? The white walls were chaste 
and the broad-arched windows under the columnaded gallery had a cold, 
aristocratic look, as if they looked out on some duke's park or a squire's 
greensward. The room was cold and chilling. It was a sterile mausoleum, 
freshly and slickly enameled like an elegant chowderhouse at a fashionable 
resort. He drew back upon the landing, waiting for the fish he had to fry. 


A great many people went in before Dr. Howe arrived. He listened 
carefully to the new plan. 

— But we have a resolution to offer tonight which calls for a meeting 
in Courthouse Square tomorrow morning. 

— Couldn't we drop it? pleaded Higginson. — Those resolutions were 
just tentative. We didn't know what we were going to do this afternoon. 
We had no real plan. 

The doctor paused, doubtfully. He looked into the hall. Already the 
rostrum had been taken over by Father Lamson, a windy eccentric with a 
long beard and a dirty white robe. And Abby Folsom, the celebrated flea 
of conventions, was hopping up and down on the floor in front of him with 
her interminable bleat of — It's the capitalists, the capitalists . . . 

— Well, said the doctor, — I don't think it would be wise to mention 
the attack tonight in the resolutions. 

— No, no, Doctor. It's to be a complete surprise. Its strength lies in 
that, don't you see? 

— We're probably the ones who will get the surprise, said the doctor. 
— But if the others agree I'll join with it. 

He hurried into the hall and up onto the stage. He wasted no time in 
ejecting the barefoot Father, who backed, still speaking, down to the floor 
where he was greeted with cheers and the doctor was soundly booed. 

Captain Bearse was the next one up the steps and he loudly rejected 
the plan as the ravings of a madman. — At sea, at sea, he bellowed as he 
strode into the hall. 

Then Higginson heard the deep bray of John Swift's baritone coming 
up. — Yes, yes, said Swift, without a moment's hesitation. — Fm sure it 
will work. The Courthouse is definitely going to be open tonight. We can 
be in one door and out the other before they can say Jack Robinson. Un- 
less the jury up there comes in with a verdict . . . but it's a homicide case 
and they're still far apart on it. 

— We'll plan the attack then, as soon as it's dark. 

— As soon as it's dark, said Swift in calm confirmation, as if the night 
came at a clock-tick, like a curtain down over a window. 

— And you'll stay by the door in case anything goes wrong? said Hig- 

— All right. Good luck, said Swift, feigning a calm and soldierly pres- 
ence, although his heart was beating so wildly and his excitement ran so 
high that after he had stood awhile by the door he forgot the special rea- 
son he had to remain there and went up into the gallery where he could be 
heard better when calling out the signal. 

9 8 

Dr. Bowditch came in and said he'd go along with whatever Parker 
wanted. And now there were only two men left to sound out. Higginson 
devoutly wished that Phillips would come up the stairs first. He was sure 
he could handle him and that he wouldn't ask a lot of questions as Par- 
ker always did. The people were coming now in a stream. It was odd how 
you couldn't reckon on the public. The reaction of the committee hadn't 
counted on this great turning-out. Tom felt proud when the Worcester 
men came puffing up the stairs. 

— Sway the crowd, he told them. Mill around, and when the alarm 
comes shout To the Courthouse, to the Courthouse! as loudly as you can 
and don't let anyone put you down. 

— Looks like the old cradle is going to rock tonight, said one of them, 
as he stepped his dedicated way into the hall. 

Parker came alone. Phillips was still over at the lawyers' building talk- 
ing to Richard Dana. He had been walking for a spell down by the 
wharves. It was an open-and-shut day and the air was moist. His chest 
had hurt some and seemed tender to his breath. He thought it was from 
the dusty air in Tremont Temple all morning and afternoon. This hap- 
pened a lot, this soreness, but he didn't think it was pulmonic because 
dampness was bad for that and made it worse. This trouble he had liked 
the dampness, and was soothed by it. Still, he had to lean heavily on the 
railing before he got to the top. He wished he had gone home for his sup- 
per and got the strength of hot food in him, but the sight of Tom stand- 
ing there with that look on his face made him glad he hadn't and made 
his headache come back. 

— Well, Tom, he said wearily. 

— Martin Stowell, the man I told you about, suggested that we attack 
the Courthouse tonight. 

— Impossible. We haven't got the forces. 

— Look inside, said Tom. — It's jammed to the roof. We have two hun- 
dred men from Worcester alone. 

Parker took a step to study the crowd. Tom caught him by the arm. 

— There isn't time to count them, Mr. Parker. I've got to get back to 
Court Square right away. At the height of this meeting, we'll have the 
element of surprise in our favor. 

— You've surprised me already, Tom. 

— I know, sir. But I think we ought to forget all about this committee 
business for once. All we have proved this morning and this afternoon is 
that nobody among us can take an order and carry it out. I've placed my- 
self under Martin Stowell and I'm going ahead with it. 


— Going ahead with what? 

— The attack. We've got a man at the meeting who's going to announce, 
as soon as it gets dark, that a mob of Negroes are attacking the Court- 
house. Then everyone here will run to the Courthouse. It's simple, like all 
great plans. Howe likes it . . . I've just talked to him . . . and so does 

— Run up to the Courthouse? From here? Parker slightly underlined 
run with a verbal edge. — That would be some chore for me right now. 

— It's only four hundred and ninety strides, any able-bodied man can 
make it if you light enough of a fire under his heels. 

— Who's going to light the fire . . . Phillips ? 

— We can't find him. You'll have to do it. It's very simple: You start 
your speech just as it starts to get dark. Then when it's pitch-black the sig- 
nal will come. You put a strong motion to adjourn the meeting to the 
Courthouse. We'll do the rest. 

Parker tried to assess the plan. It was almost too simple to weigh. Speech, 
interruption, motion . . . There was nothing there to quibble about. 

— You see the others ... he began somewhat lamely. 

— Yes, yes, said Tom. — They know, and Phillips will be told. I'll see to 
that. What's the alternative ? Tom went on. — Shall we postpone the meet- 
ing and go through the whole thing again ? Shall we wait until the Court- 
house is filled with troops, as it will be when they hear of the crowd this 
affair has drawn ? Shall we send my men back to Worcester with nothing 
but a good dose of oratory under their belts ? That isn't what they hired a 
train for. I know the committee decided on something quite different and 
you may think it wrong to depart from their decision, but there's no time 
to argue, I must have your answer. 

— Don't push me Tom, said Paiker, somewhat nettled. — I'm fully 
aware of the difference between strategy and tactics. The doubt arises 
from your oratory which is quite a strong dose in itself. As one preacher 
to another, I'd like it better if you convinced me in cold blood. 

— Cold blood ? How can I manage that at a time like this ? 

— This is the best time to manage it, I assure you. 

Tom felt obliged to turn away from Parker. He took one or two deep 
breaths, fiddled with his collar and then turned with his hands out- 
stretched, palms up, hoping Parker would not notice his trembling 

— As one preacher to another, he said slowly, — in terms of purest 
transcendentalism, and repeating the lesson I learned at your knee, I 
will leave the matter up to your conscience. You say it is infallible and 


will always decide rightly if the case is fairly put before it. . . . Will you 
make the speech ? Will you send the mob ? 

In the pause that followed, the sound in silence, Tom knew that Parker 
was hoist with his own petard and heard the yes, yes before it was spoken. 

The committee had sought for a man not regarded as a hothead or a 
partisan to chair the meeting. Thomas Russell, a former mayor of Roxbury 
and a judge in the Police Court, filled the bill nicely. He opened the affair 
with proper dignity directly after Parker took his seat beside Robert Morris 
on the platform. On Parker's right sat a member of the Governor's Coun- 
cil, Albert Browne of Salem. Phillips's seat was still empty after Russell 
had got beyond his opening remarks. 

— Once I thought a fugitive could never be taken from Boston. I was 
mistaken. The slave catcher boasts he will take his man in the shadow 
of Bunker Hill. We have made compromises until we find that compro- 
mise is concession and concession is degradation. When we get Cuba and 
Mexico as slave states and the . . . foreign slave trade is re-established . . . 

Here Phillips slipped quietly into his chair. He looked over at Parker 
and nodded affirmatively as Parker rolled his eyes at the huge crowd. 
The great clock, given by the schoolchildren of Boston, now held Par- 
ker's gaze until the long black hands seemed to stick in one spot and he 
looked away. He felt like a schoolboy, unprepared and anxious about his 
lesson, hoping he would be called on last or not at all. He saw in the 
crowd many members of his own congregation. Would they make a mob ? 
A mob to him had been a gang of iron-brained bigots taking vengeance 
into cruel drunken hands. But mobs usually met and stewed in secret and 
the door to the hall was open and people were passing in and out un- 
molested. Is a mob a free-will offering? Is it the people voting with their 
hands and feet? He swapped seats with Robert Morris to have a word 
with Phillips. He meant to ask him about the attack, but first he spoke of 

— Judge Sprague refused him a writ of replevin, whispered Phillips. 

— Naturally. They've got no one to serve it anyway. Was he down- 
hearted ? 

— A little. He says he should have got it valeat quantum. 

— Oh, hocus-pocus, said Parker indignantly. — Does he mean to try 
the case in Latin? I'm glad Charles Ellis is working with him. Has he 
agreed to that? 

— Finally. But not until he had asked Rufus Choate. 


— He must be out of his head, sputtered Parker. — Choate is an advo- 
cate of rogues and scoundrels. With him on the case, the spectacle would 
be about as uplifting as a bullfight. 

— Sh, said Phillips. — Dana only admires him for his great talent. 

— I don't care if he's a genius. His whole life has been treason to jus- 
tice. He called the Constitution a set of glittering generalities. 

Robert Morris poked him to keep silent and he switched to his own 

When Russell concluded his long speech, there was no mob. Mr. Bird 
of Walpole had begged for a chance to say a few words. He wanted to 
say a few words about the way the newspapers of Boston were handling 
the case. Mr. Bird was as waspish in his way as the newspapers had been 
on the other side of the case, and it was agreed that the point he had to 
make was worth while. 

— I'm really glad, really awfully glad to see so many of you here to- 
night. Glad because I know that at least you people will hear the truth 
and not have to depend upon those servile tools of the slave power. I am 
referring, of course, to those great organs of pusillanimity and hypocrisy, 
the newspapers of Boston. 

— I want you to know that they refused to print a denial of a report 
that the slave wanted to go back because his master was so kind. They 
were willing to lie for nothing but must be prevailed upon to tell the 
truth by being paid for it. 

Mr. Bird wiped the sweat oflf his brow. He had a querulous, intimate, 
high-pitched voice and spoke rapidly without pause. It was a relief to hear 
him run on after the rolling stops and pauses of Chairman Russell. Mr. 
Bird could go on all night if he wanted to, without glancing away once 
from his listener. 

— There are many mean men in Boston and I had the pleasure of telling 
one of them that he was a mean, sneaking dog. It was one of the editors of 
the Traveler. 

— I hope you people believe me when I tell you that the man held at 
the Courthouse told Wendell Phillips that to say he wanted to go back 
was an unmitigated lie. I drew up his statement in the form of a certifi- 
cate and carried it to the office of the Traveler. I asked if there was time 
to get it in. 

Mr. Bird stopped here and gave a dry bitter laugh. 

— I thought, of course, that it was news, and that time was the only 
question to be raised. 

— I was then told, to my great amazement, that there was time to get it 


in but that it must be paid for at the rate of one dollar and fifty cents. 
Well, after I had paid the clerk for it, one of the editors came in and I 
told him it was a mean, sneaking concern. So just be sure you pay little 
or no attention to what appears in the papers about this affair. Remember 
they are all run by doughfaces, wearing the print of their master's knuckles 
and the traces of their spittle on their faces. Soap and water don't wash it 
off, nor your hot tears either. They have worked hard for infamy and they 
have got it. 

He waved his hand to the crowd, shook hands with Parker and Phillips, 
and started to push through the crowd to the doorway. He was wanted at 
home and he couldn't stay any longer, but it had felt good to get that 
much ofif his chest. He got many a slap on the back on his way out. 

Dr. Howe came forward now to read the resolutions. He did not drone 
them out as many do but lined them out as if he were saying, Take them 
or be damned. 

The time has come to demonstrate that no slaveholder can carry 
his prey from Massachusetts. 

That which is not just is not the law, and that which is not the 
law should not be obeyed. 

It is the will of God that all men be free. We will as God wills. 
God's will be done. 

No man's freedom is safe unless all men are free. 

The response was good. They were loudly cheering each resolution with 
rising fervor. The galleries, the window sills and even the anterooms were 
congeries of men and women, dressed as though for church. 

A lamplighter was going about the hall, touching the gas jets with his 
torch. One flowered into flame directly beneath the place where John 
Swift was sitting in the gallery. He looked down into it until his eyes saw 
suns. He turned to one side to blink them out and when he opened his 
eyes, the windows looked black with the coming dusk outside. 

The last resolution Howe read was Resistance to tyrants is obedience 
to God, and it made the hall rock. 

John Swift looked into the gaslight again and then struggled to his feet. 

— Burns is in the Courthouse, he cried. — Is there any law to keep him 
there? If we allow Marshal Freeman to carry away that man, then 
cowards should be stamped on our foreheads! 

There were no seats on the floor, the people were standing and it was 
easy for them to face around and look up at him. He choked up with stage 
fright and grasped at the railing for support. 


— When we go from this cradle of liberty, let us go to the tomb of lib- 
erty. Tomorrow Burns will have been there three days and I hope to- 
morrow to see in his release the resurrection of liberty. 

He couldn't stop talking. The people kept looking up for him to say 
more and the thing wasn't working out the way it had been explained to 
him. He didn't know how to finish off and get the attention of the people 
back to the platform. 

— The resurrection of liberty, he repeated, then said f alteringly : — This 
is a contest between slavery and liberty . . . and I am now and forever on 
the side of liberty. 

He sat down. The people kept looking up for a moment or two, enjoy- 
ing the side show, applauded and turned stolidly back to watch the stage. 

Parker was listening with amazement. Was this the signal? Was this 
the man, was this the voice? But what did he mean about tomorrow? Was 
the plan changed? He looked at Howe. Howe shrugged his shoulders to 
show his confusion. He looked at Phillips, who was rising to speak. Phil- 
lips stepped unemotionally to the rostrum. 

The dusk was creeping through the square now and Higginson thought 
it safe to saunter casually to the door near the Marshal's office, the one 
they were going to use for the assault. He gave a start as a man lurking in 
a nearby doorway stepped out at him. 

— Is that you, Martin ? he said. 

— Yes, Mr. Higginson, said Stowell. 

— Where are the others ? They should be here by now. 

— I don't know. I rounded up about fifteen and they promised to be 
along about dark but they haven't come. 

— Perhaps they're over at the meeting . . . 

— The door is open, said Stowell, bending his head in its direction; 
— we won't need to use the timber. I've got it hidden in the excavation 
over there. 

Higginson fell into an uneasy silence. He remembered a fire that had 
burned a house in Cambridge and how he had envied some Southern stu- 
dents who were the focus of great applause for bringing an old man out 
of the building while he and another boy had risked their lives much more 
to bring some preserves up from the crumbling basement. 

— Perhaps we ought to go over to the hall, he said. — The more of us 
there, the more support there'll be for our plan. We'll have to do some tall 
'lectioneering from the floor to get these cold roast Bostonians on the run. 


— Let's wait until it gets a little darker, Stowell said; — I'd like to 
sneak across the street and put a wedge in that doorjamb, just in case. 

— Fine crowd we have, Higginson said in a discouraged voice. — When 
the boys come to town they just can't keep away from the bright lights and 
the pretty girls. 

Stowell laid a cautioning hand on his arm as four men came toward 
them, up the street. They stopped. They were Negroes. 

— This is all I could get, Mr. Higginson, said Lewis Hayden. — And 
they're all my cousins at that. 

— Good, good, said Higginson. — We've got no one. 

— There's two white men up the corner said they'd help out a little, said 
Lewis. — I'll try to keep out of the way so's not to get you folks in 

— Oh don't mind that. Mr. Parker was just trying to relieve you from 
responsibility. We were just about to go down to Faneuil Hall. We're 
going to put a wedge in that door over there. 

Stowell held his hand up in front of him. The darkness lay like a deep 
stain in his palm. He reached into his pocket for the wedge. It was a 
briar pipe, a huge one, an inch and a half in diameter, the heavy curving 
sort small men often smoke. He fondled it in his hand, ready to make a 
dash and thrust it under the hinge. 

But then the slow clop-clop of the lamplighter's wagon came into the 
square, and he reached from his platform to touch into incandescence the 
tip of the iron post not twenty feet from where they stood and not five 
feet away from the open door. 

— It's too late, it's too light, said Martin Stowell. 

— It's too late, it's too dark, said Higginson, thinking of the order of 
business now coming up at Faneuil Hall. 

Phillips stood with such imperturbability that Parker felt sure he had 
been mistaken about the signal. — We have, said Phillips, — up to now, 
had all the press, the pulpits, the prejudices and political arrangements of 
the country against us. But as of today, I am happy to report the city gov- 
ernment is on our side. 

He held his hand up to lull the applause. — We haven't much time. 
Tomorrow is to determine whether we are ready to do the duty they have 
left us to do. 

The crowd applauded. Parker wondered at this last, but thought per- 
haps Wendell was covering up the new plan, to insure spontaneity. 


— There is now no law in Massachusetts, and when law ceases, the 
people may act in their own sovereignty. I am against squatter sovereignty 
in Nebraska and against kidnaper's sovereignty in Boston. See to it in the 
streets o£ Boston you ratify the verdict of Faneuil Hall that Anthony 
Burns has no master but his God. 

— You may think that this is a bloody doctrine, but we have every 
weapon that ability and ignorance, wit, wealth and fashion can command 
thrust against us. We speak for over three million oppressed Americans 
who have no voice but ours to utter their complaints and demand their 
justice. We have no weapon but truth. That, and the honor of Boston. 
A Boston which might become soon a creature of the South, an anteroom 
to that great brothel where half a million women are flogged into prostitu- 
tion; where the public squares of half the cities echo to the wail of families 
torn asunder at the auction block. All of our rivers have closed over 
Negroes seeking in death a refuge from a life too wretched to bear. Men 
skulk along our highways and though guiltless are afraid to tell their 
names, and tremble at the sign of another human being. Within two 
years two such men have been captured in Boston, Pathway to Hell. 

He paused amidst the cries of — Shame! and the cheers, as the warp 
and woof of the crowd pulled tight. They were not quiet but rustling as 
the page they had lived by, up to now, turned over and a new set of rules 
lay on the opposite: that good citizenship was a snare and a delusion, bad 
citizenship was honor and a compulsion. That right was wrong and 
wrong was right. 

— See to it, Phillips said, half-turning away from them as if he were 
giving afterthoughts, — see to it, as you love the honor of Boston, that you 
watch this case so closely that you can look into that man's eyes. When 
he comes up for trial, get a sight of him and don't lose sight of him. There 
is nothing like the mute eloquence of a suffering man to urge to duty. Be 
there and I will trust the result. If Boston streets are to be so often dese- 
crated by the sight of returning fugitives, let us be there that we can tell 
our children that we saw it done. There is now no use for Faneuil Hall. 
Faneuil Hall is the purlieu of the Courthouse, tomorrow, where the chil- 
dren of Adams and Hancock may prove that they are not bastards. 

The crowd was roaring now and Parker felt as if he were in the hub of 
a great wheel. Phillips's speech had been hot and bitter; but then, they 
always were. He had heard him say as much, even more, to a meeting of 
the Cordwainer's Union in Lynn with an attendance of eighteen, at a rally 
to get subscriptions for the Liberator so Garrison's youngest boy could get 
a new pair of shoes. But this was a big crowd and it was whirling, and he 

1 06 

had to guide it into time and space. He had to roll it to the Courthouse,, 
or to the Revere House after Suttle, or perhaps to T Wharf where the 
steamer lay. He had to wait for a signal that he didn't really understand,, 
from a man he didn't know. He had to wait for a signal that might have 
already sounded. He was not sure whether he had to hold them back or 
set them rolling. The crowd was calling for him now. They weren't to be 
cheated of hearing Parker, signal or not. Nor would they have left before 
Phillips had ended. Eloquence was dog-cheap at these affairs, but Yankees, 
never shied at a bargain. 

— Fellow citizens of Virginia! . . . Parker's greeting was answered 
with a roar. It was loud and friendly with a laugh deep in it. He pointed 
his arm at them like a farmer prodding a bull with a pitchfork to test his 
mettle. He bent his head to hide a smirk and the lamplight bounced ofT 
his baldness and ran around his steel-rimmed specs. He gripped with his 
heavy farmer's hands the edges of the desk, as if they were plow handles,, 
and braced his feet wide in the furrows and arched his back as if there 
were reins around it. He looked out at them with Yankee cussedness, as if 
saying, I'm going to whip you out of the hall but hold your hosses boys 
until I get the plowtooth deep in the ground. 

— Fellow citizens of Boston, then . . . The roar started again but he 
stopped it with a brusque, impatient chop of his whip hand. 

— I come to condole with you at this second disgrace heaped on our 
city. A deed that Virginia commands has just been done in the city of John 
Hancock and a brace of Adamses. It was done by a Boston hand. It was a 
Boston man who issued the warrant; it was a Boston marshal who put it 
into execution. They are Boston men who are seeking to kidnap a citizen 
of Massachusetts and send him into slavery forever and ever. It is our fault 
that this is so. Yes, we are the vassals of Virginia. It reaches its arms over 
the graves of our mothers, and it kidnaps men in the city of the Puritans, 
over the graves of Samuel Adams and John Hancock. 

There were cries of — Shame, shame! 

— Shame! So I say, but who is to blame? There is no North, said 
Mr. Webster. There is none. Mr. Webster stamped his foot and broke 
through into the great hollow of practical atheism which undergulfs the 
state and church. Then what a caving-in was there! The firm-set base of 
Northern cities quaked and yawned with gaping rents. Slack men fled, as 
doves with plaintive cry flee from a farmer's barn when summer lightning 
stabs the roof. There was a twist in Faneuil Hall and the door could not 
open wide enough for liberty to regain her ancient cradle. Only soldiers, 
greedy to steal a man, themselves stole out and in. Legal quicksand ran 


down the hole amain. Churches toppled and pitched and canted and 
cracked, their bowing walls all out of plumb. Colleges, broken from the 
chain that held them in the stream of time, rushed through the abysmal 
rent. Harvard led the way, Christo et ecclesiae in her hand. There is no 
Higher Law of God, no Golden Rule, quoth they, only the statutes of 
men. And a prominent merchant of Boston said to his fellows that if any 
men would assassinate Mr. Phillips and myself, it should be declared 
justifiable homicide. 

The crowd laughed and he laughed with them. It was one of his favor- 
ite quotations. But then he stood rigid again. Time was ticking by. The 
brightness was falling from the outside air and he had to make them 
ready for the signal. 

— Yes, the South goes clear up to Canada. There is no Boston today. 
But there is a Northern suburb of Alexandria; that is where Boston is, 
and you and I are fellow subjects of the State of Virginia. 

Now some of them were getting riled, and there were many shouts of 
— No! No! Nay! Some of the Worcester men were taking too seriously 
the afifront to Boston. He pointed toward the Nay-crs, looking insolently 
at them. One tall farmer looked him right back in the eye. 

— Take that back, the farmer said. 

Parker held his gaze until the man got red in the face. 

— I will take it back when you show me the fact is not so. 

The outraged farmer looked as though he were going to climb onto the 
platform and take a swipe at Parker. But his friends began to talk to him 
and a little knot of men began to isolate themselves from the rest. Parker 
hoped devoutly that the signal would come from them. He gave the rest 
of the crowd another flick of his lash. 

— Men and brothers, he said, then paused insultingly. — Well, brothers 
at any rate. I have heard hurrahs and cheers for liberty many times. I 
have not seen a great many deeds done for liberty. I ask you: Are we to 
have deeds as well as words? 

There were more cheers and cries of affirmation, but nothing about 
going to the Courthouse. He waited until the silence became embarrassing. 
Then he had to start building again. 

— Now, brethren, you are brothers at any rate, whether citizens of Mas- 
sachusetts or subjects of Virginia. I am a minister. Fellow citizens of Bos- 
ton, there are two great laws in this country. One of them is the law of 
slavery. That law is declared to be a finality. Once the Constitution was 
formed to establish justice, promote tranquillity and secure the blessings 
of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. Now, the Constitution is not to 


secure liberty. It is to extend slavery into Nebraska, and when slavery is 
established there, in order to show that it is, there comes a sheriff from 
Alexandria to kidnap a man in the streets of Boston, and he gets a judge 
of Boston to issue a writ, and a Boston man to execute that writ. 

There were more cries of — Shame, shame! But still they stood there 
looking up at him. He strained his eyes, shading the light above with his 
hand, to see if there was anyone at the back of the hall trying to attract 
his attention. How long must he be impaled on this shaft of doubt? He 
looked back at Phillips and Howe. They were tranquil. Not by the turn- 
ing of a hair did they help him solve his terrible irresolution. . . . He 
must talk, he thought. There's been a delay; the plot discovered . . . 
Something must be stuck. . . . He was now so nervous, he could not 
stand at the desk but had to walk up and down. 

— Slavery tramples on the Constitution. It treads down states* rights. 
Where are the rights of Massachusetts? A Fugitive Slave Commissioner 
has got them all in his pocket. Where is the trial by jury? Watson Free- 
man has it under his marshal's staff. Where is the great right of personal 
replevin which our fathers wrested several hundred years ago over in 
Great Britain? Judge Sprague trod it under his feet. Where is the sacred 
right of habeas corpus? Deputy Marshal Riley can crush it in his hand, 
and Boston does not say anything against it. Where are the laws of Massa- 
chusetts forbidding state edifices to be used as prisons for the incarceration 
of fugitives? They too are trampled underfoot! 

He paused again. . . . You fools, you fools, where is the signal? . . . 
He was tired. He didn't want to talk any more. He was repeating himself. 
He was whirling and whirling around, still like a hub, but the wheel was 
off the ground. He began again. Outside he could see the last light fading 
from the sky. 

— These men came from Virginia to kidnap a man here. Once this was 
Boston. Now it is a suburb of Alexandria. At first, when they carried a 
man off from Boston, they thought it was a difficult thing to do. They 
had to get a mayor to help them. They had to put chains around the 
Courthouse. It took them nine days to do it. Now, they are so confident 
that we are citizens of Virginia that the police have nothing to do with it. 
I was told today that if any man in the employment of the city meddles in 
this affair he will be discharged without a hearing . . . 

To the watchers in the square the open door was like a live thing. It 
moved slightly from time to time in the wind with agonizing deliberate- 


ness, sometimes as if someone were closing it and then again shifting 
further ajar, beckoning, inviting. The moment for the onrush of the mob 
was past due, and the tension becoming unbearable. 

— I'm going to fix that door, said Stowell grimly, taking his pipe out 
of his mouth and knocking out the ashes, — light or no light. 

— We'll all go, said Higginson nervously. — There's no one in sight and 
one of us might be able to get inside and hide. 

— I don't think . . . Stowell began to object. 

— There's no one around, Martin, said Higginson. — They're all at the 
meeting, the attackers, the defenders, everybody but Anthony Burns and 
us is at Faneuil Hall tonight. 

Stowell shrugged and the six men began to cross the brightly lighted 
street. Lewis Hayden stopped short in alarm as they got half over. He had 
seen a figure at the other end step out from the shadows behind the City 
Hall. — It's Officer Tarleton of the City Watch, he said. — If he sees me, 
our goose is cooked. 

One of his cousins ran quickly to the lamppost, shinnied it and broke 
the glass with his fist. In the plunge of darkness Officer Tarleton turned 
his back on them and shook his watchman's rattle for help. Ike Creen, one 
of the Courthouse deputies, who had been watching their approach from 
a basement window, ran upstairs. Just as they got to the steps, he shut the 
door in their faces. They heard the bolt slam into place. 

— The beam, the beam! shouted Higginson. — We've got to get the 

The man on the platform turned his head anxiously right and left, 
pointing his ears toward the applause, not drinking it but rejecting it, 
hoping to hear in its dismaying dissonance the clear tonic phrase of the 
signal. His tired scholar's eyes, now beginning to burn in the unaccus- 
tomed glare from the battery of lamps overhead, tried to pierce to the 
back of the hall and up to the gallery. He could hear scattered bursts of 
response to his thrusting challenges, but it was only crowd comment, as 
set and static as the Amens at prayer meeting. 

— I say there are two great laws in this country. One is the slave law; 
that is the law of the President of the United States, it is the law of the 
Marshal and of every meanest ruffian whom the Marshal hires. There is 
another law, which Mr. Phillips has described in language such as I 
cannot equal and therefore shall not try. I can only state it in plainest 


terms. It is the law of the people, when they are sure they are right and 
determined to go ahead. 

The applause was louder, firmer and the crowd began to press toward 
the stage. Groups swept into the corner, flanking him. There was no pas- 
sage, no way at all to get through to the door. He felt like saying, Press 
not so upon me. He decided to end this miserable speech, the worst he 
had ever made, with its repetition and scraps from older, better ones, and 
the rough improvisations used to bring the pot to boil too soon; a speech 
that revealed, to all who knew him, an unhappy division in his mind and 
a basic reluctance somewhere behind it. 

— Now, gentlemen, I say there is one law, slave law. It is everywhere. 
There is also another law, which is also a finality, and that law is in your 
hands and your arms, and you can put it in execution just when you see 
fit. Gentlemen, I am a clergyman and a man of peace. But there is a 
means, and there is an end. Liberty is the end, and sometimes peace is 
not the means toward it. Now I ask, What are you going to do? 

— Shoot, shoot! someone yelled, louder than all the cheering. There 
was a quick moment of cold silence, a shocked intake of breath. Then a 
wild roar began. The man who had cried out for blood was set upon by 
some earnest Nonresistants, and the whole meeting began to curdle, swirl- 
ing little rings formed where there had been rows and in the midst of each 
of them was a Worcester man crying, — Shoot! 

This wild digression from the platform came as a relief to Parker. He 
wanted to think a bit. He had suddenly and almost unescapably come 
upon a moment he had spent his life preparing for. His grandfather had 
cried Shoot on Lexington Green and put his country in a position that 
could only be resolved by a bloody revolution. Had he maneuvered Bos- 
ton into the same position over slavery? Should he take up the cry and 
say, Yes, shoot, shoot! Take your guns to the Courthouse and shoot 
down Watson Freeman and the pimps and drunks and thieves and 
bawdyhouse keepers befouling the seat of Boston justice? . . . Could he? 

— No, no, he shouted at the crowd, his voice overpowering them. 
— There are ways of managing this matter without shooting anybody. 
Be sure the men who have kidnaped a man in Boston are cowards, every 
mother's son of them, and if we stand up there resolutely and declare 
that this man will not go out of Boston . . . then he won't go back, and 
without shooting a gun. 

There was a roar of applause at this, the Worcester men were gasping, 
silent, waiting for their second wind. 

— Now I am going to propose that when we adjourn it be to meet in 


Court Square tomorrow. As many as are in favor of the motion will raise 
their hands. 

— Tonight, tonight! shouted the Worcester men, and they pressed for- 
ward angrily, trying to pull down the upraised hands. Some booed. Some 
were for going to the Revere House for Colonel Suttle. Parker was ap- 
palled at the faces wrestling towards him, glistening with sweat and 
urging their bloody course, waving their guns and cursing. 

Parker clung to the desk for support. The noise was pointed at him, 
falling on him like fist blows. The windows now were unfriendly, not 
opening out like eyes but sending back splintery reflections of the hard 
lights and the turmoil below him. He stepped back and looked around 
for the rear door. Then he realized, with a sickening certainty, that there 
was none. The only door was up there, at the back, and there were wild 
beasts between him and the only opening. He became afraid. They were 
all in a trap. Marshal Freeman could send six men to block the door and 
hold them here all night. It was not like his Music Hall, where this 
trapped, writhing centipede could have spread its legs in any direction out 
of forty-two doors. 

— To the Courthouse! To the Revere House! . . . Tomorrow, tomor- 
row! came the cries, equal in force. 

He knew he had failed. That night Faneuil Hall had been a cannon 
packed tight with human grapeshot and wadding and he was to be the 
powder in the breech. But the man with the slow-match had held his hand 
too long, and the shot would scatter and spend itself long before it reached 
the Courthouse. And now it was no longer a weapon pointed at wrong, 
but an untidy closet, and he was an old pair of shoes at the bottom, 
smothered with rag-tag clothes and cast-off fripperies. 

He stood helplessly watching members of the Vigilance Committee, 
panic-stricken by the suddenness of the squall from the west, butting and 
buzzing through the crowd, tugging at the lapels of their partisans, trying 
to trim ship and get back on the charted course. 

— Tomorrow, they hissed, — the plan is tomorrow. 

The Worcester men pressed on, shouting — Tonight, tonight! until he 
began to cough half-strangled. He clenched his fists and raised them in 
choked appeal. If there had been a passage through them, he would have 
gone then to the Courthouse and smashed the door with his hands. Instead 
he stood, half-dazed, coughing into his handkerchief, while the agitators 
leaped and bayed at him, contending like dogs for withheld meat, de- 
manding his approval of their plan. 

Wendell Phillips could stand it no longer. He knew Parker was sick. 


He knew the racking cough was shredding away lungs cursed, in spite 
of Parker's denials, with the family consumption which New England had 
planted in the blood of its pioneers. He put his arm around Parker and 
told him to sit down. Parker leaned against the warmness, a tired swim- 
mer sinking in sight of land after a long pull. He took his chair. 

Phillips was severe with the crowd. His grimness quieted them before 
he spoke. 

— Let us remember where we are and what we propose to do. You have 
said tonight that you will vindicate the fair name of Boston. Let me tell 
you you won't do it by groaning at the slave catchers at the Revere House, 
by attempting the impossible task of insulting them. 

— What about the Courthouse? someone yelled. 

— If there is a man here who has an arm and a heart ready to sacrifice 
anything for the freedom of a man, let him do it tomorrow. If I thought 
it could be done tonight, I would go first. I don't profess courage but I do 
profess this: when there is a clear possibility of saving a slave from those 
who are called officers of the law, I am ready to trample any statute or 
any man under my feet to do it. I am ready to help any hundred, any 
fifty, or twenty-five. But wait until daytime . . . 

— We'll leave the lights on, Wendell dear, came a raucous voice. 
Phillips ignored him. 

— The vaults of State Street are with us for the first time, fellow citi- 
zens. We can muster enough people tomorrow to block the street from 
the Courthouse to the Harbor. You should believe it when a radical like 
myself affirms it. 

This drew more abuse. — You sound like you had State Street in your 
pocket, Phillips. 

In the laughter came another taunt. — What's your definition of a radi- 
cal, Wendell, a member of the Merchants' Exchange ? 

— Ask your own party that question, said Phillips, savagely reverting to 
his Garrisonian principles. — The best men in the city, and I count that 
man best who treads the Constitution and the Union under his foot, say 
this man will not leave the city of Boston. 

At this heresy, the men from Worcester, mostly voting Abolitionists, 
Free-soil Democrats and Conscience Whigs, broke out with thunderous 
boos. Parker, who had welcomed Phillips's interference as a diversion, a 
time-gainer, realized that he was now opening up a fatal gulf between the 
floor and the platform. He dimly felt an obligation to rise and take issue 
with or mitigate the hardness and finality of this position but his will 
failed and he slumped weakly back in his chair. . . . How could he stop 


him now in the face of this abuse, ask him to change his tune or quietly 
take his seat under this onslaught of challenge? Challenge and opposition 
was Wendell's bread and meat, his whip, his spur. 

Parker put his hands over his face as Wendell, magnificent war horse 
that he was, hardened his mouth against the bit, threw back his high 
mane, pitched the mellow, flexible voice into a high piercing scream: 
— Do not block their efforts by showing ourselves an utterly useless, harm- 
ful, tumultuous, aimless, purposeless mob before the pillars of the Court- 
house. It will serve no end but to put our enemies on their guard; only to 
give the garrison notice, only to rob ourselves of the sympathy of the city. 
You that are ready to do real work, to sacrifice something for the man, 
must not be carried away by a momentary impulse to a fatal indiscretion. 
If your enthusiasm is so transient it will be spent by tomorrow morning, 
put on your hats and go home! 

He paused, and in a silence as sepulchral, thick and listless as the dead 
air of a tomb, a voice came breathlessly from the back of the hall. 

— Mr. Chairman, I am just informed that a mob of Negroes is in Court 
Square, attempting to rescue Burns. I move we adjourn to there. 

Louis Varelli's boys, now deputies of the United States Government, 
were lounging at the upper windows of the front end of the Courthouse. 
They heard the music of a military band, coming up from the Charles. It 
was playing "Wood End," the favorite march of the Boston Voluntary 
Artillery, as it marched up from maneuvers on the riverbank. They went 
downstairs to hear it on the front steps, and caught sight of the mob from 
Faneuil Hall swinging into State Street. It took them only a second or 
two to retreat into the building and shut the big doors with a clang and 
hook the chains across. 

Higginson and the four Negroes were struggling with the timber as the 
mob came into the square. He directed his toward the door. Martin 
Stowell was waiting anxiously for the Worcester men to form behind 

Marshal Freeman's office was near the door, and he ran out into the 
corrider calling for help. The door began to creak and bend at the blows, 
and the Marshal screamed in panic. His small son was with him and he 
sent the boy for Pat Riley who was playing cards in Tony's room. Riley 
got sabers up from the basement and passed them out to the guards. 

Stowell was trying desperately to channel the mob into formation, but 

ii 4 

the froth and scum of the meeting had got there first, and all they wanted 
to do was pick up rocks and smash the Courthouse windows. 

Inside, the panic grew. Augerhole came running downstairs with his 
round knife in his hand. He went to the door, but when he saw the splin- 
ters springing like veins from the dark oak he stepped back. The Marshal 
waved his arms wildly at the door, calling his men. Three of the hardiest 
— Ben True, Ike Creen and James Batchelder — put their shoulders 
against it, but the bolt-straps gave way. 

Finally it opened and two Negroes and Higginson plopped inside. The 
truckmen deputies, unaccustomed to swords, began flailing them over 
their heads without taking the blades out of the scabbards. The Marshal 
got his free and struck Higginson on the chin. Someone turned the lights 
up inside and suddenly the stairs were full of men reaching for their pis- 
tols. The two Negroes backed out and Higginson, pausing a moment to 
look at the blood on his hands, was cut of? from retreat. Stowell rushed up 
the steps and fired point-blank from his pistol into the hallway. 

Isaac Green felt Batchelder fall against him and then he saw him try to 
work himself out of the crowd in a curious sidestep like a slow crab. 
Batchelder was holding his belly in his arms and mumbling and the others 
parted to let him through. — Right in the guts, someone said. — The shot 
ripped the bowels out of him. 

Marshal Freeman saw him sag and crumple at last and took him under 
the arms and dragged him into the office. The guards came hesitantly to 
the door. Higginson, finding himself clear and not understanding the 
reason for the rush and the terror, stepped angrily to the open door to 
wave on his rabble army. 

One of the deputies, in a strange gesture of decorum, pushed him out 
on the steps like an unwelcome guest. 

— You cowards, Higginson cried to the mob, — Will you desert us now! 

But as the movement started to the door, the city police, spurred by the 
hard thud of the iron tongue in the Courthouse bell, and breathless from 
running down the stairs from the Mayor's office, began arresting those in 
front. Martin Stowell managed to hide the pistol in his underwear before 
they carried him off, and the rest of the men taken in were unarmed 
Negroes — except for a Harvard student, caught while raising his arm to 
throw a stone. His name was Albert G. Browne, Junior. His father had sat 
on the platform at Faneuil Hall that evening. 

Inside, the Marshal's guard wall got a good look at Batchelder, now 
bleeding and dead, and Freeman told them to take up positions on the 
stairs and draw their cutlasses and cock their pistols. 


The guard now was bloodthirsty. They wanted revenge. They were 
mercenaries no longer for the moment, and they shouted for someone to 
open the door and let the rioters in, knowing that they could shoot them 
down like fish in a barrel and even up the score many fold. 

Freeman thrust a man away from the door and slammed it shut. The 
Supreme Court justices and the officials of the court were scuttling down 
the stairs from the second floor. Freeman, now at the height of his uneasy 
role as an unwelcome tenant in the house of justice, rushed forward to 
guide them out as politely as he could, smothering them with apologies. 

Colonel Suttle, at that point, was running unsteadily out through the 
unguarded and unmolested west door, without a thought for poor James 

When the Marshal was out of sight down the corridor, one of the 
guards ran to the door again and swung it open, making it the wrong end 
of a shooting gallery. 

Seth Webb, a young lawyer, darted from the street up the steps and was 
about to go in. Higginson pulled him back, sensing the ominous quality 
of the silence within. 

Those in the crowd who were shouting and throwing rocks were being 
arrested. The Negro who had smashed the gas lamp was recognized and 
borne off to the Watchhouse. 

Then, from the dark clump of angry people, came a tall man with a 
cane. He walked up the steps with deliberation, and thrust the door open 
to its widest arc. 

He turned to the crowd and said, — Why are we not within ? 

One of the bullies on the stairs fired at him. But the volley did not 
come, as the man swung back to look at them. In the vortex of that mo- 
ment his tranquillity was frightening, his long hair shimmered in the back 
light and he looked like a small boy's idea of God. It was Amos Bronson 
Alcott. After he found no response behind him or ahead of him, he turned 
and walked slowly down the stairs and sadly to the silent fringe of the 
crowd, and then to his home, counting this night a failure. 

Dr. Bowditch had seen him start for the stairs and wanted to join him, 
but he felt the futility of the occasion. The people near him stood idly, 
truly like spectators. Swift, who had waited for him at the bottom of the 
stairs of Faneuil Hall and who had made the lung-bursting run to the 
Courthouse with him, was nowhere to be seen. Bowditch felt the urge to 
throw himself into the maw, but the sheer nonsense of the affair had 
brought him to a state of mingled horror and shame. Higginson was 
standing silently and awkwardly on the stairs by the door. Seth Webb 


had disappeared. And after Alcott's gesture, sacrifice seemed unbearably 
self-conscious and vainglorious. Bowditch turned and walked from the 
scene, burning with shame and hating himself. 

For some reason, whether for fear of irritating the crowd or simply 
because they had their hands full with window breakers, a more expen- 
sive item than mere revolution, the police were ignoring Higginson. He 
stood there, bleeding from the chin and pressed to the granite wall, like a 
man trapped on a precipice with a crowd gathered far below him waiting 
for him to fall and splash. 

Back in Faneuil Hall, the crowd sweeping down the stairs from the 
gallery had forced back the people from the main floor and they were 
caught in a crush inside the doorway. Parker and Phillips were tugging 
and shoving futilely against the irate citizens at the thick end of the wedge. 
They tried to insert themselves into small eddies and currents of outward 
motion a dozen times, but ended up at last blocked and hampered by the 
listless, sauntering rear guard. People that knew Parker stopped him and 
asked him what to do. — Go to the Courthouse, he repeated, brushing off 
their attempts to get a fuller explanation. Howe lingered behind with 
him, giving him many an anxious glance. 

— Go on, get up there, Chevalier! he said. — Don't look at me as if you 
were taking my pulse; I'll get there. See if you can stop Higginson; this 
is crazy. 

But Higginson was already stopped. The band and the Militia had 
reached the square, and were greeted with loud jeers by the crowd, who 
left the Courthouse and clustered around the Artillery with the fickleness, 
of anger. 

Higginson broke away from the wall and walked unsteadily up the 
alleyway beside the City Hall and then to Tremont Street. Behind him he 
could hear the pad of feet coming closer and closer. It was a chase and he 
was not equal to it. He was able to summon enough guts a minute later 
to turn abruptly and face his pursuer. 

It was a kindly little man who held something out to him with a timid 
shrug and said, — Mister, you forgot your rumberell. 

The mass of men were walking from Faneuil Hall to the Courthouse. 
Only the young and wild had gone to the rendezvous in a dead run- 
Parker had to stop at each corner for a deep breath. 


Phillips took him by the arm. — Am I going too fast for you? he asked. 
Parker shook his head. 

— You should carry a stick, said Phillips. — It's fashionable. 

— I should carry a long staff and knock at the earth and say Liebe 
mutter . . . let me in. 

When they reached Court Square, it was all over. Higginson had bled 
and gone, and the Volunteer Artillery was still drawn up in the square. 
Howe ran over to them in great excitement. 

— Higginson went ahead with it. It failed, and a man has been killed. 

— Watson Freeman, I hope, said Parker. 

— No, one of the deputies. The bullet passed under the Marshal's arm. 
Oh God, we've got to do something . . . re-form our lines. I blame myself 
for this. 

Howe walked quickly away; he caught several people by the arm, urg- 
ing another attack. But they turned away as the police arrested two 

— How could Higginson have done such a foolish thing without telling 
us? said Phillips angrily. — He should have known just announcing the 
attack wasn't enough. 

— Didn't you know about it? said Parker in a slow, dead voice. 

— No. How could I? I've been chasing Dana all day. Were you in it? 
Is that why you kept bringing things to a boil ? Why didn't you tell me, 
why did you let me throw cold water on it ? 

Parker looked at him with unanswering eyes, frozen stupid in anguish. 

Phillips tried to comfort him. — Perhaps it wouldn't have mattered if 
you had told me. I might have opposed it on scruples. I suppose we'll be 
blamed by both sides now. I wouldn't like to be in Worcester tomorrow! 
Let's go. This is a bad Friday, if I ever saw one. 

— Bad Friday, repeated Parker, — with me the Pilate to you and the 
Judas to Tom. 

— It was an error of judgment, nothing more, said Phillips. — There is 
still the Resurrection to come. Richard Dana may save us all. 

They saw John Swift wandering around, his head down, hands thrust 
•deep in his pockets, like a schoolboy at a football game, taxed with the 
losing side. Parker went to him to ask about Higginson and the others. 
Swift cut him dead. He nodded to Phillips and walked off into the 

A small group of roughly dressed men began to gather about them. 
Phillips tried to draw Parker oflf, but he stood his ground looking them 
all, one by one, in the eye. They were truckmen and their helpers with 


some toughs among them. They stood looking at Parker and mumbling 
to one another. The knot became a ring around them and the eyes were 
all filled with hatred. 

— You know what you've went and done, said one, with a thick Cork 
accent. — You killed Jimmy Batchelder with your gab, you killed him. 

— Can't you keep your bloody mouth shut and leave people alone? 

— Oh, they'll git theirs, said a high-pitched whining voice, the kind 
that always puts threats into the third person, — They'll git it someday. 
Git strung up fer it, fer what they did. And if the governmint won't, thin 
the people will, and God himself will be glad. 

■ — That's right, that's right, said the voices, and the men took a step 

Parker pulled his arm away from Phillips and glared at them. One lout, 
after looking to see if he had plenty of backing, stood directly in front of 

— ■ You've killed a man with this night's work, he screamed. — But that 
isn't all your rottenness. You atheist, you blasphemer, you God-damned 
son-of-a-bitch infidel! 

Parker stepped to the man before Phillips could restrain him. The man 
jumped back at the suddenness of it. Parker seized him by the arm and 
the old strength, the strength that could hold a plow with one hand and 
two horses with the other, the strength that could lift a barrel of cider to 
his lips, came back to him. The man lifted his free hand to shield a blow 
and two or three men on the fringe began to walk away, looking fearfully 
over their shoulders. 

— My brother, said Parker, his eyes blazing, — I am not afraid of men. 
I can offend them and care nothing for their hate or their esteem. But I 
do not dare, as you do, to violate the eternal law of God, the Father of the 
white man and the white man's slave. I do not dare to violate His law. 
come what may. Should you? 

The man twisted his arm free with a mighty wrench, looked with awe 
into Parker's face, and walked quickly away, his toadies stumbling behind 

They walked by the shattered door of the Courthouse and Parker 
stooped and picked up a long jagged splinter from the shattered door. 
He held it a moment in his hand. 

Phillips watched him with concern. — Throw it away, Theodore, he 
advised. — I shouldn't keep it, if I were you. You'll be magnifying it into a 
relic of the true Cross. 

— It may turn out to be that, to me. 

II 9 

He wrapped his handkerchief around it and placed it carefully in his 
breast pocket. And then they began the long dark walk home, past the 
groups of scorning men. 

But Ben Hallett had the last word that day: had it in the dead spot of 
the night, in the Courthouse now defiled with its windows looking down 
on the square with broken eyes and the east door hanging from its hinges, 
all askew like a twisted mouth. 

The Justices of the Supreme Court had been obliged to flee in panic 
from their deliberations. While they were combing through the snarled 
evidence against a man accused of killing someone nobody cared about in 
a spot nobody was sure of, a United States Deputy Marshal, trying to keep 
a mob from breaking into the Courthouse, had been murdered within their 
hearing. If he had given way from the door and fought his way back 
twenty yards or more, he might have been killed in the courtroom itself, 
before the judge's bench, or been propped up to die in the witness chair 
giving off irrefutable testimony of the scene and the course of the crime, 
wordlessly, with his dying. 

Ben knew the steelyard of time had swung the balance to his side and 
he was in the Marshal's office making the most of it. He had seen the 
attack from the lobby window of a nearby hotel and had gone into the 
Courthouse as soon as the mob had drawn away to jeer at the soldiers 
marching into the square. 

— Lock the door, he told Watson Freeman, — we've got work to do. 

And while he scratched deliberately on sheets of legal foolscap, the Mar- 
shal stood with his ear to the barred door, listening for threatening sounds 
in the corridor outside. 

The guards stood around on the other side of the door, still holding 
shiny new cutlasses in their sweaty hands. They were not in formation or 
walking post; they just stood there. Some of them talked but not about 
Batchelder. Two talked of quitting and then did throw down their arms 
and leave. The others, used to violence and sudden death, just said that 
they were glad they hadn't rushed ahead too quickly and become martyrs 
for three dollars a day. 

The Mayor, the Chief of Police and three of the aldermen came in 
through the broken door on their way to talk with the Marshal. The 
guards did not question them but Watson wouldn't open the door until 
Ben gave him the word. The aldermen banged angrily and shouted, 
— Open up, open up! 


When they stepped inside, Ben was waiting for them with a sheaf of 
papers in his hand. 

— Gentlemen, he said reprovingly, — I assume you are here to offer 
your help; but let us not forget we have the remains here of a man who 
has just given his life for his country. Hats off, please, gentlemen. 

The Mayor took his hat of? sheepishly and looked down at the body. 
He suddenly knelt down to draw the rug aside and examine it. One of 
the alderman, Tisdale Drake, said sharply: — I shouldn't examine it, Mr. 
Mayor. You'll be asked to give an opinion if you do and it will involve the 
City officially in the aflair. 

The Mayor drew back his hand with a jerk, hesitated and then grasped 
the dead man's wrist. — Just looking for a pulsebeat, he said. — Well, he's 
dead all right. 

— The City is already involved, Alderman, said Ben, — regardless of 
the Mayor's medical opinion. Several eyewitnesses have seen the man shot 
in the groin with a pistol fired by one of the rioters. He bled like a stuck 
pig. The Marshal and I have prepared a statement to the newspapers 
about it. 

— Has the coroner seen him yet? asked the alderman. 

— No, answered Ben. 

— Then I'd advise you to go easy before you make statements about 
how he was killed, said the alderman, threateningly. 

— I appreciate your concern for your friends, Alderman, but if you had 
gone easy and thought a bit before you gave them a permit to organize 
fanatics and murderers in Faneuil Hall tonight, this man would be alive. 

— Don't lay the death at our door, Hallett . . . 

Ben held up his hand. — Please, please, Mr. Drake, I have to take imme- 
diate steps to prevent further murders and disorder before I can stop to 
argue this one. No one else seems to be equal to the occasion. 

— We'll wait, said the alderman. 

Ben shrugged his shoulder to show that he was ready to carry on with- 
out them and began to read loudly from a paper in his hand. 

— Marshal, I am sending this telegraph at once to Washington city, to 
the President: 

In consequence of an attack on the Courthouse tonight for the 
purpose of rescuing a fugitive slave under arrest, and in which 
one of my own guards was killed, i have availed myself of the 
resources placed under my control by letters from the war and 
Navy Departments in 1851 and have ordered two companies from 


Fort Independence stationed in the Courthouse. Everything is 
quiet. The attack was repulsed by my own guard. Signed Watson 
Freeman, Marshal. 

He handed Watson the pen, enjoying the discomfiture of the aldermen 
as he watched them out of the corner of his eye. 

After Marshal Watson Freeman had scratched his name he handed Ben 
the quill. Ben laid it down. 

— Aren't you going to sign it, Ben? asked Watson anxiously. 

— Certainly not, Ben said. — You're in charge here. I'm merely your 
legal adviser. The letters I refer to are in the pigeonhole to the left in 
your desk. Get them. 

He crossed to the outer door, opened it and shouted, — Riley, Pat 
Riley! He closed the door and faced the aldermen. — Now, gentlemen, 
there are a great many things that you can do to help this city put down 
this disorder. The Marshal and I cannot take the responsibility for putting 
it down. What do you propose to do? 

Little Alderman Williams tilted his mole's face up to Ben and said, 

— We're here to propose that you get the hell out of this Courthouse, Ben 
Hallett, and take your gang of thieves with you. 

Ben flushed red. He was angry. — How dare you, sir, use that language 
to me ? By what right, sir, by what right ? 

— It's city property, Mr. Government District Attorney, and it's being 

Ben rocked back on his heels as if he had been struck a foul blow. 

— How is it being destroyed ? Why are you blaming us ? Get the men at 
the meeting. Get the crowd from Worcester. 

— Your lease is hereby terminated. Get out, get out. Alderman Williams 
was a Scotsman, and his anger flared high and his burr thickened. — Git 
oot, git oot, he said. 

— By what authority is the lease canceled? said Ben, recovering some- 
what and playing for time. 

— By the authority of the Board of Aldermen, said Williams. — We've 
warned you before about this, and told you we'd cancel the lease if there 
was further trouble. Now don't say it was us that made it. You put the 
poor black lad in the room upstairs, and you can't blame the people for 
striking against the bloody law. 

— Let me see it in writing, said Ben. — I've got to have notice in writ- 
ing. Where are the minutes of the meeting? When was it held, and how 
many were there? And I demand a rollcall on the votes. 


Ben saw the aldermen pause in consternation. He saw he had won a 
point and followed it up quickly. — Oh, this meeting was held tonight, 
and there was no quorum, was there, gentlemen? 

— Why don't you take the man over to the Navy Yard, Ben? said the 
Mayor in a placating tone. — It's safer there. It would be better all around. 

— And what will I do with poor Batchelder? said Ben, gesturing at 
the body. — Lug his remains like a side of beef all over the city? I can't 
understand you men; Christians, you call yourselves, but you act as if this 
was no more than the body of a dog lying there. 

— Thy servant is a dog that he should do this thing, said Williams, 
putting his hat on with an angry tug. He waved his finger under Ben's 
nose. — We'll get a quorum and we'll get you and your kidnapers out 
of here. And you'll get a carpenter and repair that door and put a glazier 
to work on the windows. The City won't pay for it ... or for that. 

He pointed his finger at the corpse and went out. The others followed. 
The Mayor and the Chief of Police were last. 

— Mr. Mayor, said Ben sharply, as His Honor got to the door. — I want 
a few words with you and Chief Taylor. 

While the Mayor hesitated at the door, Pat Riley came in. — Did yez 
want me, Ben? he said. 

— The Marshal wants you, Riley. The Marshal will give you some let- 
ters of authorization. He wants you to go out to the Harbor forts and 
come back with two companies of Marines. 

Riley turned and blinked at the Marshal as if the man's mind had be- 
come unhinged. — Couldn't it wait till morning, Marshal? It's comin' to 
midnight. There won't be any more trouble tonight. 

— I want this building occupied by U. S. troops tonight, Riley, said 
Ben sharply. — Now get out there. 

— Holy Mother of God, Mr. Hallett, said Riley. — What am I going 
to do, walk across the water? 

— I seem to remember, said Ben with contempt, — a small steamer now 
tied up at Long Wharf and chartered by the United States government. 
Would it be too much trouble to get them to take you down the Harbor, or 
has Austin Bearse driven it off with one of his fishing and piracy parties? 

— Be God, you're right. He crossed to Ben and tugged at his sleeve, 
looking with an apelike smile up into Ben's face. — You're right, sir. He 
touched his forelock, took the papers from Watson and left. 

Ben looked over at the Mayor, who was still standing, undecided, at the 
door, and crooked a finger at him. — Come over here, your Honor. The 
hotheads have gone now. You can be yourself. 


The Mayor walked over uncertainly. — I realize this situation is bad, 
Hallett, but I'm in a very difficult position. The whole Board of Aldermen 
is against you. I'm afraid . . . 

— How are they going to evict me? boasted Ben. — In an hour or two 
this building will be occupied by Marines from cellar to attic. They'll have 
to declare war to get me out. 

— I don't think that attitude is helping matters any, said the Mayor 

— I don't care what you think, Smith, replied Ben, bluntly. — I've got 
a job to do and I'm going to do it. I'll go as far as I can and that's pretty 
far. The sooner you go along with me, the better off you'll be. This is 
nothing to what might come if I don't get the aid of the city authorities. 

— You seem to have everything you want without any action of the 
city authorities; in fact, by flouting the city authorities. 

— This isn't all I want, Mr. Mayor. I want all streets and avenues to this 
place kept clear to prevent a repetition of this incident. 

— How can we do that? I haven't enough police to do that. 

— Call out the City Militia. Quarter them in Faneuil Hall. That will 
perform a double duty and keep the aldermen from issuing any more per- 
mits for treasonable meetings. That's the proper way to handle this affair. 

— Is it legal? asked the Mayor doubtfully. 

— It's a lot more legal than having another murder committed in the 
Courthouse! What do you do when a fire station burns down, give the 
firemen a medal? You're in a bad position here, Mayor Smith. Your ears 
are going to be red-hot when the papers come out in the morning. They'll 
want to know what you've done to protect the citizens from this violence 
all around them. How many arrests have you made? 

The Mayor turned helplessly to Chief Taylor. — Chief Taylor would 
know. How many, Chief? 

The Chief had been watching Ben with a great deal of annoyance. He 
owed his appointment to Mayor Smith and he didn't like to see him bul- 
lied. — About forty or fifty have been confined to the Watchhouse, he said. 

— Forty or fifty, repeated Ben. — Who are they, what are they? Are 
they citizens or are they the foreign invasion from Worcester? 

— I don't know who they are, said the Chief. — My men have put 
down the disturbance as far as I am concerned. 

— What about the murderers? Have you got the man who fired the 
shot? Have you got the men who instigated the attack? Have you got 
Theodore Parker and Wendell Phillips? Have you arrested them or will 
I have to sign a complaint against them myself? 


■ — We have arrested the men caught creating a disturbance. The men 
speaking at the hall had a permit to do so. I was there myself, and I heard 
no talk from the platform of attacking the Courthouse or killing anyone. 

— Are you foolish enough to think there was no connection there? It 
was all cut-and-dried. There was a signal given from the men that were 
hanging around outside. Where did they get the timber all of a sudden 
to batter the door in ? They didn't carry that all the way up from Faneuil 
Hall. The men that smashed the door weren't at the meeting and the 
meeting wouldn't have come out to aid them if they hadn't known what 
was up. The meeting caused the shooting of the man; the town constable 
down in Barnstable could figure that out. How long have you been Chief 
of Police in this unhappy city of one hundred and sixty thousand un- 
protected souls? 

— Four hours, sir. But I know you can't charge a man with murder un- 
til the cause of death has been established by the coroner. For all I know 
the man might have tripped on his own sword. And I might say one 
more thing, Mr. Hallett. I am responsible to the Mayor and the aldermen, 
and no one else. I doubt very much if the police force can find time to 
guard the approaches to this Courthouse. I am sure that many of them 
will refuse outright rather than get mixed up in this. 

— Mr. Mayor, said Ben, — is that the kind of an answer a citizen of 
Boston should get from a public servant? 

— Please, gentlemen, please, said the Mayor, — let's not get embroiled 
in personal arguments tonight. We have a public opinion question here 
and we must keep our heads cool. Now, I agree with both of you gentle- 
men. I feel that there should be an assurance given to the citizens of Bos- 
ton that their streets will be kept orderly. On the other hand, I know 
many officers and others will refuse to serve in this affair. Even if we did 
call out the Militia, as a last resort, it would be acutely embarrassing to all 
of us here if they ignored the order, which they might. 

— Colonel Cowdin is your man, said Ben. — He, thank God, owes no 
allegiance to anyone but the United States. Tell him to get the Columbian 
Artillery, under Captain Cass. They're all Irish and when they hear what 
happened to Batchelder and that he was an Irishman, they'll come 

Chief Taylor turned to the Mayor. — Is there anything else, sir? 

The Mayor shook his head. The Chief left abruptly. Mayor Smith 
reached around and pulled his sweat-soaked coat away from his back. 
— About calling out the Militia, he said. — I don't know how to do it. 

— Sit down and write, said Ben, and then began to dictate. His voice 


held an unmistakable note of triumph as he carefully phrased the official 

To Colonel Robert S. Cowdin, commanding the Fifth Regi- 
ment of the Artillery of Massachusetts Volunteer Militia: 

Whereas, it has been made to appear to me, J. V. C. Smith, Mayor 
of Boston, that there is threatened a tumult, riot and mob or a body 
of men, acting together with force with intent to offer violence to 
persons and property and by force and violence, to break and resist 
the laws of this Commonwealth, and that military force is necessary 
to aid the civil authorities in supressing the same . . . 

Now therefore I command you, that you cause two companies of 
Artillery, armed and equipped and with ammunition as the law 
directs, and with proper officers attached, to report to the City Hall 
and there to obey such orders as may be given them according to 
law. Hereof fail not at your peril and have you there then this war- 
rant with your doing returned thereon. 

Witness my hand and seal of the City of Boston, this 26th day of 
f May 1854 . . . 

The Mayor signed it and handed it up to Ben with a rather shame- 
faced air. Ben knew, as he read it quickly through, that the Mayor was 
embarrassed by his legal ignorance. 

— Why, he asked diplomatically, — don't you put your M.D. after your 
name, Doctor? We professional men must not play down our achieve- 
ments, even if we do stoop to politics now and then. 

— You re the M.D., Hallett, said the Mayor, smiling falsely. — A Master 
of Documents. 

— It's my only vice, answered Ben with a wide grin. 




The shot fired by Martin Stowell on the Courthouse steps wasn't heard 
around the world but it reverberated heavily in Louisburg Square, giving 
Ben Hallett a sleepless night. It kept Mayor Smith in harness and tossing 
restlessly on a sofa in his office. 

But it rang loudest in the ears of the Worcester men bivouacked in a loft 
on State Street, and was especially stimulating to little Thomas Drew, the 
sentient editor of the Worcester Spy and now the leader of the western 
delegation since StowelPs incarceration. And when he stepped out onto 
State Street and read the morning papers, he knew he had a job to do 
quickly, without taking the time to bring copies up to the loft or to 
acquaint the others with the progress of the battle. 

Drew had the good sense to apply to Judge Russell for a note to see 
Martin Stowell, now brought to the cells beneath the Courthouse with the 
other arrested men for his examination that afternoon. 

The note was effective enough to get him a talk with Martin in the 
privacy of a cell, with the jailer indifferently out of earshot. This was 
fortunate because Drew always talked very loudly and intensely, forming 
his words with such vehemence that he spit in the faces of his listeners; 
they constantly had to turn away from him and even take a backward step 
to get out of the shower, and that made him talk more loudly than ever. 

— You blew his bloody guts out, Martin, he crowed. — We've drawn 
first blood. He's as dead as a mackerel. It's in all the papers! 

Stowell stared at him in amazement. — What are you talking about? 
I didn't shoot anybody's gut or anybody's head! 

— You fired off one shot, didn't you? asked Drew. 

— I fired once, into the air. I caught sight of them beating Mr. Higgin- 
son with their sabers and I shot once, without drawing a bead. I have 
no recollection of hitting anyone. 

— God guided the missile, Martin, said Drew. 

T2 7 

Martin was not in a thankful mood. He got up from the rough cot and 
took a turn around the narrow cell in uneasy alarm. — Drew, you must do 
something for me right away. Go over to the Williams Court Lockup and 
see if you can find my pistol. 

— It's my pistol, as a matter of fact, Martin. I should like it as a trophy. 
I bought it from Deacon Goddard. His son Luther loaded it for me. 

— They didn't search me after the arrest, said Martin anxiously, — and 
I hid it under my mattress. If you don't get it at once, I shall be hung. 

— Don't worry. Don't worry. There isn't a jury in the land that would 
convict you. 

— Please, Mr. Drew. I beg of you. Get the gun. 

Drew called the guard over to open the door, patted Martin on the 
back and left for the Williams Court Lockup. On the way over, he met a 
Boston police reporter named Hanscome, who was known to him as 
sympathetic to the anti-slavery forces. Hanscome bribed the guard at the 
lockup with a two-dollar note to join him in a glass of ale at the nearby 
Bell in Hand. This allowed Drew to search the cell occupied by Stowell. 
Under the mattress he found the pistol, with one incriminating empty 
chamber. He deposited it in the shop of a friendly tailor close by and went 
back to discuss the plan of action with the boys in the loft. 

When Ben got to the Courthouse, the Marshal's door was locked again 
and he was admitted by the coroner. He went immediately into the inner 
office to join Marshal Freeman. He caught a glimpse of the naked body of 
Batchelder laid out on a table with a doctor bending over it. 

Nick Queeny was sitting with Watson Freeman. Ben greeted him with- 
out warmth. — Where were you last night? 

— I was at the meeting, said Nick defensively. — You told me to go. 

— Why didn't you come back and give me a report? That's why you 
were sent there, said Ben. 

— Well, I was there for quite a while. I thought I'd stay there and try 
to stop some of the people from coming to the Courthouse. 

— Don't you ever do or say what you're told to, Queeny? asked Ben. 
— I was very anxious last night to have a complete report on what was 
said there last night. It's possible some very important arrests could have 
been made if I had had the right evidence. 

— I had to work on the report, Queeny said. — It was hard to get it just 
right. I worked all night on it. 

— I'm sure they haven't got the full report in the papers. I know Parker 


must have given some signal to go to the Courthouse. I must know every 
word he uttered there last night. 

— My report was in the paper, sir, said Nick sheepishly. — It was in 
the form of a poem. 

Ben gave him a long volcanic look and held out his hand. Nick placed 
a folded newspaper in it. Ben began to read it aloud with heavy sarcasm. 

Watson thought it was very good and said so. Nick watched Ben with 
alarm. He had known in the back of his head while he was writing it that 
it was a mistake, but he thought it would show Hallett that he was differ- 
ent from the ruck: more talented and discerning. Ben threw down the 
paper and went to the door and pushed it open. Nick got up slowly, know- 
ing that this was the end. But something interrupted Ben before he gave 
the word of banishment. The cloth was back over the corpse, the doctor 
had packed his bag and was ready to leave. 

— Doctor. Dr. Stedman, called Ben softly. 

The doctor ignored him and walked out through the outer door, but 
the coroner turned around and looked at Ben blandly, chewing on a 

— Come in. Come in, Coroner, said Ben invitingly. — I want to have 
a talk with you. 

The coroner came slowly and placidly into Ben's office and sat down. 

— What did you discover, Coroner? asked Ben respectfully. 

— I've got to give my report to the Mayor, Ben. I can't say anything 
official to you. 

— As a personal favor, Coroner. After all, Watson and I are pretty much 
involved in this. We have to make a report to Washington city. 

— Stab wound, said the coroner without taking the match out of his 
mouth, — in the groin. Went in about six or seven inches. 

— No. No, said Ben. — That's not true. He came over to the coroner in 
alarm. — It was a pistol shot. It blew his bowels out. Everybody knows 
that. It was in all the papers. 

The coroner waved his head back and forth in an irritating way. — Just 
a stab wound. Few abrasions of the head. 

Ben lost his temper. — What are you trying to do, Coroner, fix it for 
somebody? I know where you stand. You have certain leanings and the 
doctor is an out-and-out Garrisonian traitor. 

— I'm the coroner, and I say it's a stab wound. You might get the jury 
to change that, but I doubt it. 

— He said he was stabbed, said Watson suddenly. — I heard him say 
he was stabbed. 


— You stay out of this, you fool, shouted Ben. — If the man was stabbed 
he was stabbed by one of your men and then you'll get it, Watson. 

The coroner's big, yellow teeth were bared happily. — We think we 
know what happened. They were all drunk in the guard and someone 
had a grudge against this fellow and saw a chance to get even. The 
coroner went to the door. — You're a great man to cut to fit, Hallett. But 
this cut won't fit the way you want it to, so forget it. 

Ben pulled himself together, kept down his temper and began to bar- 
gain. — Now wait a minute, Coroner. We're all in a dreadful situation 
here. We can't snap fingers over this. There are too many people involved. 
If the man was stabbed, how did he throw so much blood? It spurted 
all over the hallway. The Marshal had some on his trousers. 

— Ben, pleaded Watson, — keep me out of this. 

— Femoral artery. The weapon pierced the artery and the blood gushed 
out. That's why he died so quick. 

— I don't believe it, said Ben doggedly. — I'll be damned if I will! 
Make a proper post-mortem on that carcass and you'll find a lead ball in 
there. I saw the hole. It was a round hole no bigger than my little finger. 
Fve seen many a knife wound in my day but never one that left a round 

— It could have been made by a round knife, or a rat-tail file. 
Watson gave an excited start, looking up at Ben in panic. 

— Any of your men carry a round file for a weapon, Marshal? said the 

— I'm going to demand an autopsy. You're not going to get away with 
this, said Ben. 

— Wait, Ben, said the Marshal. — Let's not go too fast on this. If there's 
no bullet in there, it'll come back on my posse. We can't afford that now, 
not with their records. 

— Are you asking me to connive in concealing evidence? roared Ben. 

— Whoa there! said the coroner, putting his hands over his ears. — We'll 
have an autopsy. But if there's no bullet in the man the nine men being 
held for this murder will be let go and your name will be mud, Ben 
Hallett, and I wouldn't be surprised if a warrant is taken out against the 
Marshal here. 

Watson's eyes narrowed in a spasm of fear. — For God's sake, Ben, 
let's let well enough alone! Let's bury the man and forget about it. We're 
in enough trouble. 

Ben thought for a moment and then said, — I'll make a bargain with 
you, Coroner. I know where you stand politically but we'll say no more 


about that or about your friend Dr. Stedman. If you are allowed to bury 
the man without an autopsy, will you agree not to let your report be made 
public until the fugitive is sent back ? 

— Why ? I don't have to make any bargains, you know. 

— I'm not so sure of that, Coroner. But I'll let it pass for now, said Ben. 

— Watson has seen the police reports and we know who the men are that 
are going to be charged with murder. None of them are of any importance 
but if we can keep them in jail a few days it might wet-blanket a few more 
with wild ideas. 

— That's all right with me, said the coroner, shrugging with indiffer- 
ence. He walked slowly out into the corridor and spoke to some men 
standing with a stretcher at their feet. — Bury the man, he said. 

— Who did it, Watson? hissed Ben, turning on his colleague with fury. 

— I'm not angry at you but I must know who did it. 

— I don't know, Ben, said Watson helplessly. — They all carry knives. 
I wouldn't trust any one of them. Augerhole was standing right in back 
of me. He might have done it. 

Ben squeezed his plump lower lip between his thumb and finger until 
his mouth looked like an overripe tomato. — I wish I were sure about 
that bullet. It was fired off, and the man died right after. It's perfect. 
Even if you were the coroner I'd question that kind of a verdict . . . a 
round knife! And now I have to take it from that coroner and that doctor. 
They're both thick as thieves with the aldermen, and Parker, and the rest 
of that crew. And they're bluffing. I know it. 

— Let well enough alone, said Watson in alarm. — That bullet hit the 
wall just over my head. 

— Too bad it didn't hit you, growled Ben. 

— That's what Parker said, answered Watson. — Augerhole did it; he 
carried a file like that. Let it alone. 

— Close the door, Watson, said Ben. — Don't tell the whole Courthouse. 
His eyes fell on Nick Queeny. — It looks like you're going to stay on the 
payroll a little longer. 

When Watson went to close the door he saw the coroner talking to the 
Chief of Police and the Mayor. He called to Ben: — Hey! 

— Close the door, for God's sake. 

— It's the Chief of Police and the Mayor, said Watson, coming back 
into the room. — What if the coroner tells them that the man was mur- 
dered by one of my posse? 

— Tell them to come in, I sent for them. Ben pushed Watson into a 
chair. — Now calm down, Watson. If you go on any more like this I'll 

r 3 r 

plant a rat-tail on you. You should have one to go with that brain of yours. 
Ben went over to the desk and sat carefully in his big chair. He started 
to stoop for the paper he had thrown to the floor, but couldn't reach it. 
Nick got it for him. Ben gave Watson part of the paper. — Stay behind 
it, he said, — and don't open your mouth. Let them do all the talking. 

The Mayor and the Chief came into the office without ceremony. 

The Chief began the conversation. — We're holding some men for a 
hearing this afternoon. Do you want their names? 

— Any known Abolitionists among them? 

— There are three Negroes. 

— Any Abolitionists, Mr. Taylor? Any of the men who started the 
riot: the men who spoke at the meeting or stirred up the crowd outside? 

— Not that we know of, sir. 

Ben gave him a disgusted look. — What are you holding them for, 
breaking windows? I suppose they'll be asked to pay the cost and then 
be released. 

— They'll be charged with murder. 

Ben gave Watson a triumphant look as the Marshal peeped in relief 
from behind the newspaper. His bluff had worked. The coroner had gone 
along with him. Ben paused to review his position. He had a little time 
now until the coroner's jury met and made the findings official. He studied 
Chief Taylor a moment. He saw ambition in the man's youthful aggres- 
siveness, his neat black hair springing up from a widow's peak, his square 
shoulders and his bold, curving, resolute nose. Ben got up from his chair, 
swinging his arms together, like a small boy. Ben could seem young when 
he wanted to, roguish and wheedling, with his cowlick hanging down 
and his bland moonface shining. He walked over to the Chief with small, 
young steps as if he were a new boy in the neighborhood and he wanted 
to make friends with him and invite him into the gang. He hooked his 
thumbs in his trouser pockets and gave the Chief a wide grin. 

— I don't know why we're righting, Chief, he said. — I ain't mad at 
you and I guess you ain't mad at me. Although you should be: I under- 
estimated you badly. I thought you sent your men out into the square to 
arrest all comers for breaking windows and such, but now I see that you 
have some real culprits and that you realize that there is a murderer among 

The Chief smiled slightly. Ben turned his back on him, passing his 
hand over his face in apparent weariness but really so as to wink at the 
open-mouthed Watson underneath it. He went on talking to the Chief 
in a gentle, self-deprecating tone. 


— The Mayor's mad at me because I made him call out an Irish Com- 
pany, but I admit I was wrong and I know how to correct it. We can't 
always do the right thing under stress. But if we can get an understanding 
between us now, it will be worth all our trouble. 

The Mayor was unimpressed by Ben's change of mood. — How are we 
going to correct this? he said, waving a broadside against the Irish. 

— Arrest an Irishman on the other side, said Ben. 

— I suppose you're referring to poor Johnny Cluer, said the Mayor 

— Yes, I am. He was shooting his mouth ofT outside the Courthouse 
last night. I could hear him halfway across the street. Now, if a weapon 
could be found on him, an old file or something . . . 

— He's got a bad record, said the Chief, thoughtfully. — We've had him 
in several times. 

• — What's this about finding a file on him? That man was shot, wasn't 
he? said the Mayor suspiciously. 

— Don't get excited, Mr. Mayor, said Ben. — They had various weapons. 
Now, gentlemen, I'm going to lay my cards right on the table. I'd like 
to work with you on this thing but I don't have to. Two hours after 
the incident last night, I had the Courthouse defended by a troop of Ma- 
rines. I'm getting more troops from the Navy Yard today. I don't need 
you, but you need me. 

Ben paused to let this sink in. He went on boldly. — I feel obliged to 
meet this situation with all the brute force at my command. They use it. 
But we've got more of the same. 

The Mayor started to interrupt: — But the people don't want . . . 

Ben broke in. — The aldermen are always talking about the people, but 
they're really only jealous that they'll lose their power and a few votes. 
This is no time for us to be divided, Mr. Mayor. This little group of 
fanatics won't be satisfied until they've driven a wedge between the two 
sections of our country and destroyed it. Up to now, they've hidden be- 
hind speech-making and the Bill of Rights and all that nonsense. But this 
time we've caught them redhanded in an overt act . . . levying war, you 
might say. But we're letting them slip through our hands while we fight 
amongst ourselves! We could stop all this trouble, all this agitation of a 
question that can only end in a civil war, by silencing three or four men. 
Three or four men! 

He held up his fat starfish hand with the thumb against the palm and 
the fingers out stiff. 

— Two are seriously involved in this affair. Why don't we take advan- 

J 33 

tage of this opportunity that's like a gift from God, and stop their lying 
mouths for good and all? 

Ben could see the Chief falling under his spell. The Mayor was resist- 
ing. Ben turned full strength on the Chief. 

— You, Chief, are a young man at the bottom of the ladder. You don't 
want to be a police officer all your life. Everything you do to help the ad- 
ministration in this affair will be remembered and rewarded, I promise 
you. Why do you resist me and the actions taken by this office? Why? 

— I'll answer that, said the Mayor. — Because he takes orders from me 
and from the Board of Aldermen. 

Ben turned to the Mayor, taking him by the lapels. He was gaining 
ground and he knew it. — Stop being a prisoner of the aldermen, Mayor. 
Don't fight everybody at once! You don't have to be the whole team and 
the dog under the wagon, just because of them. Put the city under martial 
law. I'll arrange the papers, and all you'll have to do is sign them. It won't 
cost you a cent. Washington will pay all the bills. 

The Mayor was wavering. He was almost ready to drop the load. 
He looked at Chief Taylor. He liked him and didn't want to stand in 
his way. 

— What about the police, said Taylor. — What will they have to do? 

— Nothing, chortled Ben; — that's the beauty of it. They can keep 
their hands clean. General Edmands will be in complete charge. 

The Mayor felt a vexing burden ease off his back. — All right, Hallett, 
he said, — if you can get me an authorization from Washington to pay 
the bills, I'll sign anything you like. 

Ben whirled happily around. — Go down to the telegraph office, Mr. 
Queeny, and see if the President's message has arrived. 

After Queeny left Ben said: — There's a most intelligent young man. 
I am thinking seriously of adding him to our staff here. He was present 
at the meeting last night; as a disinterested observer, of course . . . Ben 
winked broadly after this. — He wrote his report in the form of a little 
poem. It's in the vernacular, but extremely penetrating. Fd like to read it 
to you gentlemen, to prove how obvious the intent and purpose of that 
meeting was, even to a disinterested observer. 

The Parson sez, 'tis no use nghtin' 
Yet led them on like bar-greased lightnin'. 
I warn ye, strike not . . . (after ten . . . 
'Cause then the spot's a lion's den, 
Prowled by wild, bloodthirsty troops 
A'growlin' on the Courthouse stoops.) 


Ye '11 never make that door a flinder. 
(Unless you git a great big timber.) 
Don't figger mobbin' Burns's master. 
(He reined 'em in to whip 'em faster.) 
'Tis in Revere House that he's bedded. 
(Go on, ye fools, go it bald-headed!) 
And if some take to pavin' stones, 
A coat of tar will save his bones. 

You littul rogue, you seen up high 

A hornet's nest when you skipped by. 

You throwed a stone and turned your back 

And drew on us the stingin' pack. 

And toddled home and prayed to bed. 

And scorned the man your prank left dead! 

— There, gentlemen, is the whole thing as it looks to the citizens o£ 
Boston this morning. Now what are we going to do about it? 

Time and forces Ben Hallett grabbed with greedy hands. But Parker 
didn't reach out for things like that. He was a farmer's son and he let the 
fruit ripen on the tree. If a tool broke he laid it aside to fix later, and took 
the next-best thing to hand. The next-best thing was the law now, and 
Richard Dana was the sharpest blade. 

He and Charles Ellis walked into Dana's office that morning to escort 
him to the Courthouse. — We've come to try the law now, he told Dana. 
Dana didn't catch the meaning of the remark: he had come in from Cam- 
bridge in the carriage of a friend and had not seen the garrisoned Court- 
house or heard the details of the attack. 

When the three came to the edge of Court Square and saw the baleful 
throng standing in the hard morning light, Dana stopped short in horror. 
The Marines were drawn up in full array before the Courthouse, with 
fixed bayonets. The troops from the Harbor forts were being relieved by 
a garrison from the Navy Yard. Dana began to force his way through the 
crowds; they resisted him at first, but when they saw Parker with him, 
they drew apart like the Red Sea waters to let the three go past. 

Dana became aware of the absorption of the onlookers in his party, and 
glanced suspiciously at Parker. Parker's face was calm until they got di- 
rectly in front of the granite steps of the Courthouse. There was a black 
ambulance there, and the Marines were marking out a lane from it to the 
Courthouse door. Parker stopped and held Dana by the sleeve. 


— An accident? Why are these troops here in the City Courthouse? said 

Ellis and Parker stood silently. Dana turned to a man next to him and 
asked the same question. The man moved nervously away without a word. 
Parker bought a newspaper from a boy standing near them and handed it 
to Dana. The story of the attack took up the entire second page. 

As Dana read, a sigh of excitement went up from the crowd. A stretcher 
with the covered body of Batchelder was carried down the steps and fitted 
into the ambulance. Parker could have reached out and touched it. 

Dana looked at it and then at Parker. The concluding words of the lurid 
newspaper gave him a bad feeling: an impulse to walk away from the 
whole thing and go back to his garden in Cambridge and dig in the un- 
complicated earth: 

Let us see where rests the responsibility before God and man for 
this murder. It is not the person who in a moment of excitement 
killed James Batchelder who is responsible for this deed, but it is 
the men who artfully inflamed his passions and then left him to 
their uncontrolled exercise. It is they alone who are guilty and w 7 ho 
must answer for the deed. The law may not be able to reach them, 
but public opinion will; and their own consciences, when they find 
time to listen to them, will say to each and every one of them, when 
the question is asked, who is guilty of the murder . . . thou art the 

Dana looked around at the people. They were watching the ambulance 
roll away. A few looked at Parker but they had no meaning on their faces. 

Dana swung his back abruptly to the Courthouse. — Is there any truth 
in this? he asked. 

— There was an attack on the Courthouse, answered Parker. He kept 
his head down. He was afraid to see total rejection on Dana's face. 

— Were you there? 

— It was all over when I arrived. I knew about it beforehand. 

— Did you do anything to prevent it? 

— Well, said Parker, with a half-smile, — that's a moot point. 

Dana stood indecisively. Parker could see him wavering. He wished 
Phillips was there to stiffen Dana's backbone. 

— I'll tell you the whole thing, Dana, said Parker. — We're not ashamed. 
Tom Higginson led the attack. They haven't arrested him yet. They don't 
know about him. We hope so, anyway . . . 

i 3 6 

— Higginson? questioned Dana in disbelief. — Why, his father was 
Bursar of the College! 

— An old family. 

— Yes, yes, said Dana. — I knew of his ardor and courage, but I hardly 
expected a married man, a clergyman and a man of education, to get mixed 
up in this thing. 

Dana turned to the Courthouse again. — Well, shall we go in? 

As Parker followed him he took off his hat to wipe the sweat off his 
brow, shaking his head with relief at Charles Ellis. 

The guards were turning people away right and left, but Parker walked 
boldly up the stairs ahead of the two lawyers. A young soldier, a lad of 
sixteen, held his musket to one side to block Parker. Parker struck it up- 
wards and out of his way with a wave of his arm. The lad turned around 
for his corporal, who took pains to be looking the other way. Ellis got in 
with Parker's backwash but the musket dropped again at Dana's chest. 

Dana asked by what right he was barred from a Massachusetts court- 
room and refused to identify himself. He made a real issue of it, and it 
took the intercession of Peter Dunbar, a truckman deputy who was in 
charge of the door, to get him admitted. Parker looked up and smiled as 
he took his seat beside him many minutes later. 

The courtroom was now bristling with guards. Tony sat on the pris- 
oner's bench like an afterthought. The battle now seemed to hang on con- 
trol of the Courthouse. Parker wondered if he had made any attempt to 
get clear during the attack. He hadn't, but had been placed between the 
two windows for fear of flying bullets, while the guards had turned off 
the lights and thrown themselves to the floor. 

The legal business at this point was routine. Charles Ellis stated the 
main theme of the defense: difficulty of obtaining access to the prisoner 
and securing him a proper defense. He asked for delay and continuance. 

Mr. Kerr's line was to minimize the hearing: that it was not to decide 
the question of a man's freedom, but to speed procedure so that the man 
could be sent to a place where his status could be decided according to the 
laws that are presumed to exist there. He asked for a speedy disposition of 
the case to quiet the public unrest. 

The court was here interrupted by a messenger who asked the Marshal 
and Mr. Hallett to step down to their office and assist Colonel Suttle who 
had been arrested on his way to the courtroom. Ben got up angrily and he 
and Watson Freeman went out. 

Counsel Thomas suddenly became aware of something nobody else had 
appeared to notice. Parker was brazenly sitting within the bar, where only 


lawyers were allowed. He got to his feet, framed a vigorous protest, and 
then thought better of it. It was unwise at this time to insist on the formal- 
ity of a regular trial and it would only help the case of the slave. 

— Your Honor, he said, — the only reason the opposing counsel wish 
to delay this procedure is that they have no case. They are in for political 
capital and they intend to make this trial an extension of the dreadful 
deeds of last night. The court has seen what occurred here and if certain 
gentlemen can lay their heads on their pillows and say that the blood of 
the murdered man is not upon them, I should be glad to hear it. I hope 
that the opposing counsel is not of the number of these men. The claim 
my client makes is a simple one, no more than a promissory note. There 
should not be any opposition if the note is proved. It lies before you in the 
affidavit of the Virginia Court. 

He turned and looked at Parker. — There are some here that may not 
like this law but it is nevertheless the law. To continue this case would be 
to invite further disorders. I submit, your Honor, that it is no less treason 
to defeat the operation of this law than it would be to go to the other end 
of this courthouse and rescue a man convicted of murder. I see no argu- 
ment for continuance, your Honor, that is not against the law rather than 
its application to this set of facts before you. 

Parker was too busy looking around himself to notice the special atten- 
tion of the counsel. He was preparing another leaflet for Garrison to print 
and the winds to spread. He scrawled: 

Murderers, Thieves and Blacklegs Employed by 
Marshal Freeman/ / / 

Marshal Freeman has been able to stoop low enough to insult 
even the United States Marines, by employing Murderers, Prize- 
fighters, Thieves, Three-card Monte men and Gambling-House 
Keepers to aid him in the rendition of Burns, and has such little 
confidence in the courage of his Deputies that he has engaged the 
services of Louis Varelli who was charged with murdering his mis- 
tress by throwing her over a bridge and who now keeps a brothel in 
the city . . . 

He paused a moment in his writing and looked over at Louis Varelli, 
a squat, jolly, greasy-looking man who sat in the jury box picking his 
breakfast out of his teeth with a large folding knife. Louis smiled genially 
back at him. Parker looked at the man next to him, a sleek-haired, frock- 
coated swell. 


... Of Doyle and his Brother, two Three-card Monte robbers, of 
Carey, known to the police as Thievy, who is kept by a prostitute 
and escaped from the Leverett Street Gaol about two years since, 
where he was incarcerated for robbery; of Kelly and his brother who 
are engaged in keeping gambling saloons and houses of prostitution 
and of fifty other similar characters known as villains in the criminal 
records of Massachusetts . . . 

Counsel Thomas, noting the urgent and persistent writing of Parker, 
concluded that his words were being taken down and began to bring his 
plea to a close. He slowed down his pace a little, forming his sentences 
with all the polish at his command. 

But Parker wasn't even listening. 

These are the characters [he wrote] with whom the officers of the 
U. S. Marines are called upon to act. Let the people mark them. 
They are in the Courthouse. They are petted by Hunker Demo- 
crats. They are supplied with money and rum by the United States, 
by order of Marshal Freeman. Such scoundrels, men of Massachu- 
setts, are employed to trample upon our laws, and insult you, and are 
supplied with arms and ammunition to shoot you down if you dare 
to assert your just rights. Will you submit quietly to such insults! 

Ben and the Marshal came back into the Courtroom. Ben tapped Coun- 
sel Kerr on the shoulder. — You'd better go and see Suttle. He's in the 
other courtroom. 

— What's the trouble? asked Kerr. 

— Lewis Hayden swore out a warrant for kidnaping against him. 

— What shall I do ? I don't think I ought to leave here. 

— Go down and talk to him, Ben said. — It's all right now. My son 
Henry put up bail for him and Brent. Bail was five thousand apiece. 
The Colonel needs someone to talk to. He's showing the white feather. 

Kerr went out as quietly as he could. When the lawyer got to the other 
courtroom, the Colonel's case had been disposed of and he had gone to 
the Marshal's office. Kerr looked at the record. They had been involved 
in action of tort for the recovery of ten thousand dollars' damage for con- 
spiring to have one Anthony Burns kidnaped as a slave and carried to 

Kerr flinched a bit on reading it. It could have been just as well brought 
against himself. He certainly was conspiring to send the man back. He 
could see the word hjdnapers in Parker's eyes every time he looked at him. 
He went to the Marshal's office. 


The Colonel was sitting well away from the window. He greeted Kerr 
coldly and said he would be damned if he was going in any more court- 
rooms that day. Kerr told him that he wouldn't be required upstairs. The 
Colonel ranted on a bit about the brutality of the Boston people, calling 
them conversely cowards and beasts of prey. He was especially bitter about 
the Mayor's refusal to get him a bodyguard and said he was hiring one out 
of his own pocket. 

Kerr was troubled by a thought that he could resist no longer and had 
to bring it out point-blank. 

— Why don't you sell Burns, Colonel? 

— By God, I reckon I might, if I could get the right price for him. 

— What is he worth, Colonel ? 

— Not a hell of a lot, right now, son. He's a runaway and he's got 
that bad hand. I'd be lucky if I could git back my expenses on him. 
I've spent nearly three hundred dollars now and he ain't worth more 
than four. 

— I could get you twelve hundred, Colonel, if you gave permission. 
The Colonel peeked apprehensively out of the window. The crowd had 

begun to surge a little and the chatter had stopped. Then they could hear 
the tired voice of the Mayor addressing the crowd, telling them to go 
home, begging, pleading and in the end threatening. And at the end, the 
chatter started up again, and there were thunderous boos and a boiling 
movement, and they caught sight of policemen shoving at tight knots of 
hecklers and they saw two men being arrested and carried off to the 

— Damn it, you've got a sale, said the Colonel. Kerr ran up to the court- 
room before he changed his mind. But he didn't say a word about it to 
Ben Hallett. 

Richard Dana was now pleading for Burns. He made the point that 
Ellis hadn't even talked to the prisoner and that he had had a very brief 
interview. He threw scorn on the argument that the quick rendition would 
stop the violence from spreading, saying that it was an argument that 
should be addressed to no court, for it was a confession of weakness . . . 
that the law and the court were weak and therefore the man must suffer. 
And in doing so, he managed to bring a graceful compliment to the Judge, 
saying he was happy to bear witness that the court had called the prisoner 
up, perceiving that he was intimidated, and had counseled him in a paren- 
tal manner, advising him of his legal rights. 

He then went after Kerr's argument that the thing would be better set- 
tled in Virginia by saying that once the certificate was granted that he 


would never be able to go before another tribunal. He said that Burns's 
whole attitude of reluctance to protest and his underlying fear was caused 
by the threat that he would be sent to Louisiana, to the malarial swamps, 
to die. 

— The claimant might send him where he pleased, and your Honor, 
regardless of the humanity of this court, could not prevent it. And still the 
man could say and honestly too, that he was not permitted to have a de- 
fense. I submit, your Honor, that this man, if remanded, will be sold at 
the first slave market touched upon his return. 

Mr. Kerr got timidly to his feet, and, not daring to look at Ben or Senior 
Counsel Thomas, said: — Your Honor, I must take exception to the last 
remark of the opposing Counsel. I have just been informed that Colonel 
Suttle is willing to sell the man here in Boston if his price is met. 

For once, Theodore Parker and Benjamin Hallett shared a common 
pang of rage and disgust. The Judge was pleased. His light voice shook 
with hauteur as he implied that the suggestion . . . that his desire to do 
justice would be affected by the excitement in the community . . . was 
downright insulting. He therefore granted delay until Monday morning at 
eleven o'clock. He left the courtroom with a covert glance at Ben Hal- 
lett, hooding the light in his pale eyes that came at the sight of Ben's ill- 
suppressed rage. 

Parker, Dana and Ellis, after shaking hands with Tony, walked quickly 
out. Kerr, peeking out of the corner of his eye, could see Ben growling at 
Watson Freeman. Counsel Thomas came over to Kerr. — Never mind 
what Hallett says. I'm glad this happened. 

— Well, Ben, said Watson, his fishlike eyes retreating deeper behind his 
cold and convex brow, — this may be all for the best. After all, we haven't 
heard a word from the President. 

— Sleeping off a drunk, no doubt, said Ben. — Oh, I could wring that 
Colonel's neck. I had an idea that something like this would happen after 
that damned arrest. I'm going down to the telegraph office. He walked oflf, 
turning his shoulder rudely on the Colonel's lawyers. 

Mr. Grimes had managed to get into the courtroom. He came to Lawyer 
Kerr quietly and hesitantly, and asked him if it were true that Suttle was 
willing to sell his boy. 

— Yes. But it must take place after the rendition, or at least after the 
certificate has been given, and it must be for twelve hundred dollars. 

— After the certificate? But then it will be hard to raise the money. 
I intend to try and raise it in any case, said Grimes. — But if it could be 
done today, and the man taken out of the city, many people would con- 

tribute to keep the peace regardless of their feelings on the slavery ques- 

— He's got a point there, boomed Counsel Thomas. — Let us have a 
talk with Colonel Suttle, Mr. Kerr, and ask him if he'd consent to a sale 
today for the sake of keeping the peace. After all, the principle will be 
established right enough. If the citizens of Boston pay him twelve hundred 
dollars for the man, they can't be disputing his right to him. 

They left with instructions for Mr. Grimes to meet them in the corridor 
and after a while they were back with good news, interrupting him in the 
midst of a fervent prayer. 

— God bless you, said Mr. Grimes. — Between this time and ten o'clock 
tonight, IT1 have the money ready for you. 

He turned away quickly for fear that they'd change their minds. Mr. 
Kerr caught up with him at the door. — There's a name on this paper 
of a man I want you to visit, he said, furtively handing him a folded 
paper. — He's always been on the other side of the fence. I think now he 
wants to redeem himself. 

Mr. Grimes thanked the lawyer effusively, and they parted with hearts 
warmed to each other. But it took several hours for him to find the man, 
and when he did he found that Ben Hallett had been there before him and 
he could get nothing from him. 

So Mr. Grimes trudged through the streets. He waited by many a door 
for nothing and took many a rebuff but here and there he got a dollar too. 
He finally met a broker named Hamilton Willis in an office on State 
Street and got a list of people who were really good for a sizable con- 
tribution. Mr. Willis said that his approach was too direct and prepared 
a paper which read: 

We the undersigned agree to pay to Anthony Burns, on order, the 
sum set aside against our names, for the purpose of enabling him 
to obtain his freedom from the United States Government, in the 
hands of whose officers he is now held as a slave. This paper will be 
presented by Rev. L. A. Grimes, pastor of the Twelfth Baptist 

With this paper, which said everything but admitted nothing, Mr, 
Grimes was able to get pledges of six hundred and sixty-five dollars. 

At the other end of the Courthouse was the Police Court. At two o'clock, 
the rioters were brought up from the cells in the basement to face Judge 
Rogers on the charges brought against them. 


Their entrance, handcuffed together and blinking in the light, brought 
a crowd to the courtroom. Two nightwalkers standing before the judge's 
bench were dismissed with charges filed and all attention was directed to 
the men who had smashed at the Courthouse. 

The procedure for administering justice to a citizen was directly oppo- 
site to that of the Slave Bill. Instead of legal haste, there was legal delay. 
It unrolled like a long drama, in many settings. First, the accused must be 
brought up in the lower court and the evidence presented by the police 
officer assigned to prosecute. The judge then decided if the accused could 
be held for probable cause, and then the case was given to a grand jury. 
The grand jury considered the evidence and issued a true bill if there was 
a reasonable doubt of the innocence of the accused. The grand jury bill 
was tried in Superior Court, before a petty jury of the accused man's peers, 
drawn at random with the right of challenge from the voting lists of the 
county of jurisdiction. If Tony Burns had had the good fortune to kill 
a man, or had really stolen considerable silver from the jeweler's shop, he 
could have postponed his departure South for some time. 

Luther Hamm, the assistant Chief of Police, made the charge against the 
men. Police Chief Taylor had ducked out of it. He wanted to keep clear 
of the aldermen in spite of the deal with Hallett. 

The complaint was that the whole number of those held had, collectively 
and with malice aforethought, committed a felonious assault on the person 
of James Batchelder with firearms loaded with powder and ball, and that 
they did kill and murder the said Batchelder. 

The charge came as a shock to most of the prisoners. It was the first 
time some had heard that a murder had been done. Even Stowell, the best 
informed of the prisoners, knew very little about what had happened. He 
had seen the papers that morning but they gave confused accounts. One 
paper said Batchelder had no children, others said two and three. One 
boasted that the widow had been informed of her loss by reading the 
Boston Post, hinting that the Marshal and the United States District Attor- 
ney had thought so little of their hireling that they had not even informed 
the widow before her grief became common gossip. 

The Police Court was a clearinghouse for petty crime, and there was 
no set seating arrangement or aspect of pomp about it. The Judge copied 
down the charge and turned to Luther Hamm for his evidence. 

— The Government is not prepared to enter on the case, said Hamm, 
— and we ask that the examination be postponed until Wednesday 

Albert Browne, who had been caught throwing a stone, or rather about 

r 43 

to throw a stone, nudged his lawyer, Charles Davis of Plymouth, who had 
been engaged to defend him and the others by Browne's father. 

— I pray your Honor's judgment, said Davis. — If the City has no case, 
I ask that these men be dismissed. 

— They have a case, said the Judge, — but there is a delay until the 
coroner's jury hands down a verdict. This is a serious charge and I would 
not feel right in freeing these men pending such a finding. I feel obliged 
to continue the case at the City's request until Wednesday. 

— Your Honor. I ask that the charge be amended to riot, so that these 
men may be let out on bail. Some of them were arrested before the al- 
leged homicide took place and it is so recorded in the police records, sir. 
I suspect this procedure is being carried out for the pleasure of the United 
States Marshal. 

Judge Rogers smiled. — It would not be fair to the men to plead to a 
charge of riot and then find that murder had been committed during the 
riot. That might place them in a very awkward position. I appreciate the 
Counsel's concern, but I feel that perhaps it would be better for the de- 
fendants to rest in a nice cool cell until this heat wave subsides. 

He banged the gavel. — Case continued until Wednesday next. 

As the men were brought out, Marshal Freeman looked them over. He 
could find no one there that looked like the tall man with the white face 
and flying hair who had faced him inside the door the night before. . . . 
A poor catch so far, he thought. 

On this sixth day, time was driving wedges almost hourly in the great 
crack that had opened up in the granite wall of Boston's defense against 
the irrepressible conflict. There was no number on the clock yet to which, 
one could point and say: — Well, here all is quiet; this is a breathing spell, 
the fever is slackening here. 

And after the rioters . . . their names and faces still obscure, their 
crimes still unconfirmed . . . had been returned to their cool cells, out of 
the heat of the day, there was another meeting of the Vigilance Committee. 

Parker and Phillips were not there. Someone had, by accident or design, 
forgotten to inform them of the meeting. It is just as well they were not 
there for there was much unfavorable comment. Parker was scored for his 
intemperance. Phillips was mercilessly criticized. Some said that he was 
an avowed Nonresistant and didn't belong on the Committee. Austin 
Bearse, who had called the meeting, defended him but went on to offer 
his plan of rescue at sea by the sloop Flirt. This was rejected and the only 

i 44 

concrete thing that came out of the meeting was another leaflet, more 
genteel than Parker's. 
It was handsomely titled with a reflection of the class ties of the signers: 

To the Yeomanry of New England. Countrymen and Brothers: 

The Vigilance Committee of Boston informs you that the Mock 
Trial of the poor Fugitive Slave has been further postponed to 
Monday next at eleven o'clock a.m. 

You are requested therefore, to come down and lend the moral 
weight of your presence and the aid of your counsel to the friends of 
Justice and Humanity in the city. 

Come down then, sons of Puritans! For even if the poor victim 
is to be carried off by the brute force of arms and delivered over to 
Slavery, you should at least be present to witness the sacrifice, and 
you should follow him in sad procession with your tears and prayers 
and then go home and take such action as your manhood and your 
patriotism may suggest. 

Come then, by the early trains on Monday, and rally in Court 
Square with courage and resolution in your hearts; but this time, 
only with such arms as God gave you. 

It wasn't a bad leaflet, dignified and humane, but Parker's went better. 
He seemed to have a vein of coarseness in his nature that appealed to the 
more belligerent classes. Now take that one he wrote this morning in the 
Courthouse. It's pasted up in all the dens and barrooms on Ann Street. 
The one that begins Murderers, Thieves and Blacklegs Employed by 
Marshal Freeman / / / Hardly the sort of thing to bring home where 
the children might see it. 

The arrest of John C. Cluer took place in front of the Courthouse while 
he was making a speech. He had been in the square since morning, pass- 
ing from one group to another. He was a marked eccentric with a long 
white linen coat and carried a bundle of newspapers under his arm. His 
hair was long, streaked with gray, and from the brow to the crown it 
looked burned by the sun. It lay in sparse, heat-twisted and wiry curls 
like ashes over the hot, red glow of his sunburned scalp. His face was in- 
flamed and divided by a strong thick nose which he kept pointed at his 
opponents with ramlike belligerence. He was a former actor, and spoke 
in a theatrical brogue which he had assumed to hide the fact that he was 
not Irish at all but an Englishman who had been shipped out of the Tight 


Little Isle for his participation in the Chartist riots. This he could not 
take credit for in the circles wherein it was due, because he had left a wife 
behind and married another one in New York. More people knew about 
this than he thought, and it was generally overlooked by the strait-laced 
reformers with whom he collaborated. Being, as he was, a self-confessed 
labor leader, Socialist and violent exponent of the eight-hour day, they 
were relieved to know that the most he had committed was bigamy and 
drunkenness. He was booked on the charge of riotous procedure and put 
in a cell well away from the others. A few minutes after, he was taken 
back to the Police Court and there, with another man named Morrison, he 
was charged with the murder of James Batchelder. 

— I am innocent, he shouted; then damned himself by adding with 
unconscious irony: — I was at the Faneuil Hall meeting last night. 

Mr. William C. Fay, an undertaker from Cork, had amassed enough 
business from his countrymen, with their fourteen-year life-span in the 
Boston slums, to have himself referred to as Esquire in the Democratic 
paper. He stood on the spot involuntarily vacated by Johnny Cluer, hotly 
arguing with two Yankee livery-stable operators from whom he rented 
his hacks. 

— I tell you, there's no Irish in the man at all. And I'll quickly prove it 
in a series of points which would damn the man if his name was O'Toole. 
First and foremost, he has no faith at all. Not even a Protestant one and 
that's bad enough. Did you ever hear a true Irishman talk against Our 
Lord ? No, you have no answer to that and there's other bits of proof such 
as the fact that he's an organizer for the trades-unions and ain't it the 
trades-union that's put up to prevent a man working for whomever and 
for whatever he likes ? And most of all, he's fighting for the bloody nigger, 
and with Irish starving in the streets! If he was Irish, he'd be tickled to 
send him back and give a job to one of his own. Heavens, man, there's 
enough Irish waiting and praying and starving on the docks at Queens- 
town for a chance to work here without worrying about them black nig- 

The two Yankees had been getting a lot of sly amusement out of watch- 
ing the expression of a stout Negro who had been listening to Fay, Esquire. 
But they put off quickly through the crowd when the Negro, without a 
word, swung his huge belly like a pendulum at Fay, knocking him to the 
ground. The Negro's face was passive and inscrutable as he bent over the 
breathless son of Cork. His big hands gripped Fay's coat and he dragged 


him to his feet. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Officer Tarleton of the 
city police coming for him. Tarleton had his club out, but he swerved 
and stumbled, bouncing of? one of the retreating bystanders, and before he 
recovered himself, the Negro had him tightly by the throat. 

William C. Fay, Esquire, had been dropped again as the officer came 
up but he got no higher than his hands and knees until he had crawled 
beyond the line of the crowd. Once there and safely erect, he cleared a 
passage through for Officers Riley, Cheswell and Rogers, who lumbered 
up and began pulling at the Negro's arms. But the man hung on and 
they had to push him and Tarleton into the Courthouse before they got his 
hands off Tarleton's neck. 

He was docile enough after he got into the police court, and gave his 
name as Wilson Hopewell. Around his waist they found a belt with a 
leather sheath, and in it a long Malayan knife called a creese, ten inches 
long, round and slender; on the end of it discoloration, like dried blood. 

Marshal Watson Freeman brought the news of the new arrests over to 
Ben's house with great satisfaction. Ben was napping in the back parlor 
with the shades drawn and a handkerchief over his face. He woke up as 
Watson was announced and received him with swollen eyelids, tousled 
hair and sagging, discouraged cheeks. 

He listened stolidly to the Marshal's account of the arrest of Wilson 

— What is he booked for? he asked. 

— For murder with a knife. 

— And the others are held for murder by firearms. That's no good. 
We can't tie this man with the knife up with the main body of rioters. 
It still fails to prove the connection between the murder and the meeting. 
As a matter of fact it weakens the tie we have already established. It's a 
dead end. Are you sure you didn't recognize anyone when the rioters were 
in court ? 

— No. They were all strangers. The newspapers haven't even printed 
their names. But we've got Johnny Cluer locked up. 

Ben poured himself a glass of water from a pitcher on the table. Then, 
using the glass as a finger bowl, he lightly sprinkled his hot face. — We're 
running out of time. Too bad they picked up the man with the knife. 

Watson looked at him with quick indignation. — But that clears my 
men! Why is it too bad? 

— I doubt that, said Ben. — It clears the others for sure. Ben pulled his 


crumpled shirttails out of his trousers; they flapped briefly in the quiet 
air like flags of truce. — I'm discouraged, Watson. Things were in excel- 
lent shape this morning and now we seem to be losing ground. I don't 
dare to push the Mayor into the martial law thing until I hear from the 
President. You're sure there's no word at all from Washington? 
Watson shook his head. 

— You know, said Ben with a heavy sigh, — I was just lying here and 
thinking it might be better if we drop the whole thing. Get out now and 
save what we've got. 

Watson smiled with relief. 

— If the man is bought that will solve the question. If this Wilson 
Hopewell . . . Well, there is a possibility he might be guilty. Watson, you 
tell the papers about the arrest of Hopewell. And inform them . . . Wait, 
I'll write it out for you. 

He sat at a table and wrote: 

The negotiations for the slave Burns were well-nigh consummated 
today and the proceedings carried so far as to leave no doubt. Burns 
will be bought and liberated tonight or at the close of the examina- 
tion before the U. S. Commissioner. The sum of twelve hundred 
dollars was made up by colored persons. The Counsel of both sides, 
as also United States District Attorney Benjamin Franklin Hallett, 
have acquiesced in the arrangement. 

— Shall I bring it to the Post? said Watson. 

— No, answered Ben sleepily, — Colonel Green knows my handwriting. 
Take it to the Courier, 

Ben went back to the couch and lowered himself onto it with grunts 
and groans. Watson said good-by and got a limp wave of the hand in 
return. Before he got out of the door he could hear Ben snoring. 

When the special edition of the Courier came out with the story, it 
cleared away more of the mob in the square than all the pushing and 
arrests of Mayor Smith's police. 

So the event stopped on dead center, at five o'clock in the afternoon of 
the sixth day. The day, made up of many little pieces, had too many pieces 
and everybody got tired of it. 

Tom Higginson was weary, sitting with his long legs jackknifed 
between some shielding barrels of fish in a wagon now drawing into 


Worcester. It was the way he took to escape from Boston. He was advised 
not to stay there and not to go home on the train. 

So, after spending the night at Dr. Channing's, he had been stowed 
away on a fishcart in the market and was now near the end of his part of 
the nightmare of struggle and flight. 

The tired horses were walking slowly when he jumped off at the corner 
of his home street. He staggered a bit before he worked the deadness and 
the pins and needles out of his legs. 

He walked thoughtfully up the shady street, composing an attitude 
with which to confront his family. He was the most immature and young- 
est of the radicals. He had yet to learn the trick they had of cutting their 
families off from their controversies with the world so that they could 
come back to a quiet house after crusading, rebuke their wives and spank 
their children without compromising ideals or having to put down rebel- 
lions based on their own preachments under their own vine and fig tree. 

Should he reveal failure? Thomas Drew had gone back to Worcester 
on the noon train and probably, by now, had spread the news of the fiasco 
all over town. He could not really blame himself before his wife, his 
mother, and his young niece there on a visit. The defenders of the Court- 
house had failed to strike him down, hurt him or even pursue him enough 
to satisfy the tingling need for self-destruction that had gripped him as he 
flung himself against the door. 

The attackers had failed him. None had followed him and he had been 
the only white man inside the door. All of the men of Worcester that he 
had rallied with such high purpose had stood in the street outside, gaping 
at the struggle, and worse still, had watched him at the end, shrinking so 
buglike against the wall, not being arrested or even taken notice of by the 

Parker had failed him. The men had not come with a rush to support 
him with wave on wave of brute force. Parker had let him down and he 
had modeled his whole life on Parker's. His theology was the same, his 
sermons, his readings, his writings . . . everything but his arithmetic was 
as near to Parker's as he could make it. And his arithmetic would be the 
same too, if he ever got to be as much in demand as a lecturer as Parker 
was and made such pots of money. 

He opened the door and went into the dim and fragrant little house, 
calling to his family. They had failed him too. There was nobody home. 

He got some bread and cheese from the cupboard and went into the 
back yard. It was choking with deep shadowy clumps of bushes and vines 
spurting with fresh abundance from the showers of the day before. He 

i 49 

dawdled about, looking at some tomato plants he had set into a corner 
the previous tenant had used for a rubbish heap. He went to the lilac 
bush to sniff a moment or two. But the purple flowers had gone by and 
were tinged with rust and there was a faint smell of corruption there. 
He thought of Batchelder. 

The newspapers had said that Batchelder had children: The murdered 
man leaves a wife and an interesting family . . . An interesting family. 
That was a sly dig, more effective than mere bathos. He was childless, like 
Parker and Phillips. Was it from this that he got his instinct for self- 
destruction? But Garrison had children and he was a selfless man; the 
most reckless of them all at times. 

Wandering and munching around the yard, he began to feel oppressed 
by the thick, ropy green mass around him. He angrily brushed aside some 
tender branches that swept like his own hair across his brow and sat down 
on a rustic bench to think a little. What was the line to take on Batchel- 
der? The man had been killed, perhaps under his leadership. Should he 
mourn him ? Should he be regretful ? Should he send flowers to his home 
or perhaps make an appearance there . . . throw himself on the mercy of 
the young widow . . . say a few words at the funeral in mitigation of the 
unexpected and unwanted fatality? What had Parker said? . . . Too 
bad it wasn't Watson Freeman! . . . Well, that summed it up, he 

He got up and walked out to the street to see if the womenfolk were 
coming but it was deserted. Back in the yard the green profuseness trem- 
bled and swayed, completely out of control. He had let it grow that way 
as an offering to freedom but now it was choking him — too much, too 
wild, too free. He threw open the bulkhead door and went down into the 
cellar and pulled the rusty sickle from out of the beam and came up and 
began to hack at the tall veined stems. They toppled with a murmur of 
surprise and some bees came to buzz in anger over their fall. 

His angry slashing had hacked a hole almost into the next yard, and 
as he pulled the curve of the blade against the thick tubes of the inner 
shrubs, he was startled to hear a high thin sob coming from a spot just 
ahead of him. He stopped the sickle and pushed aside the brush. 

There, in a hollowed-out spot, sitting on an old rag, was a little girl, 
keening over a broken doll. 

— What's the troub', what's the troub'? he asked in his kindly, minis- 
terial way. 

She held up her doll and as he took it she said, — He's broken his legs 
and now he has to walk around on his drawers. 


He looked gingerly under the dress (it was a lady doll) pulling back 
the drawers to see if repairs could be made. 

— Oh, said the child hopefully, — one of them is growing out again, I 
saw it. She snatched the doll away from him and ran out into the sunlight. 
He threw down the sickle and went into the house. 

When the women got home at last, he was sitting with upright com- 
posure in the parlor. He rose to greet them as they came in, keeping his 
finger at his place in the folded book, a perfect picture of calmness and 

The women looked at him wearily and resentfully. His mother and 
wife were swathed in the bulbous, uncomfortable yards of white voile that 
women put on for outings and their faces were parched and red from a 
day in the sun. 

He could tell at once from their expressions that they had some trivial 
tale of woe to relate that would completely rob any utterance he made at 
the time of all dramatic value. His wife went at once to a mirror and 
began daubing at her inflamed skin with a crumpled handkerchief. His 
mother looked angrily at the book in his hand, as if he were holding a 

— Wentworth, she said abruptly, — would you bring in the things 
from the cart? It's full of dishes and all sorts of things. 

He looked out of the door and there on the sidewalk, decked with torn 
bits of colored paper, was a child's cart borrowed from a neighbor. 

— I'm so disappointed in you, his mother said. 

He turned to her in alarm, seeking for the words to begin the flow of 
explanation for the fiasco. 

— Everybody was asking where you were. The children were heart- 
broken. It seems you had promised them all sorts of games and stories. 
As it was, the entire burden of the affair fell on Mary and me. 

His wife, seeing the stunned expression on his face as he tried to wrench 
his mind away from the Courthouse steps, began to laugh. 

— Oh, he probably forgot about it completely. You know how he can 
put unromantic chores out of his head. The May Party, dear; today was 
the May Party. 

— But I was in Boston, Higginson said helplessly. — I couldn't get back. 

— Well, said his mother, — your presence was missed. Mr. Drew and 
the others got back and I don't see why you couldn't. We had to drag 
the cart back and do all the picking up. The children deserted us en masse 
after they had had their lunch, the little wretches. That's what you get 
from your come-outer parents. No manners, no manners at all. 

r 5 r 

— But the affair in Boston. Didn't you hear about it? 

— We had more important things to think about. Thanks to my absent- 
minded son. 

— Look at his chin, laughed his niece Louisa. — Were you trying to 
shave and read a book at the same time again, Uncle Wentworth? 

He put his hand quickly to his chin ... his wound. It was covered 
with a small piece of tissue paper and when he pulled it off, it lay like a 
shrunken husk in his hand. It was small, it was piddling, but he went to 
his desk with dignity and placed the bloodstained scrap carefully away in 
an envelope. 

Mary, his wife, could tell now something had happened. She knew the 
signs: the silence, the erectness of posture, the long-suffering expression, 
the faraway feeling that came out of him. She put her arm around his 

— Are you hungry, dear? Why don't you bring in the things in the 
cart ? There's some nice ham left and a whole pie. It's Mrs. Nelson's apple 
pie. She made it for you and she wouldn't let anyone touch it all after- 

— No dear. I'm not hungry. I'm tired. I'm upset. I've been through a 
lot since last night. 

— Well, said his mother, — let's plank ourselves down and hear it out. 
We'll never get that cart unloaded until Wentworth settles the current 
problems of the world. 

— Please, Mother. You might very soon have more important things 
than May parties to manage. It's entirely possible during the next twenty- 
four hours that I shall be arrested and confined to prison. 

Mary and his niece were properly shocked, but his mother took it with- 
out flinching. 

— Humph, she said, — I suppose you were at that disgraceful meeting 
at Faneuil Hall. 

— No, Mother. At the very moment the meeting was going on, I was 
standing outside the Boston Courthouse with a battering ram, prepar- 
ing to break down the door and rescue the slave they had confined 

— Thank the Lord for that, said his mother. — I read Mr. Parker's 
speech and I must say I can't see any reason for his language at all. Why 
does he persist in denouncing all and sundry that disagree with him and 
opening up old wounds? That kind of intemperance doesn't help things. 
People say that it's men like Mr. Parker that have kept respectable people 
from participating in this cause, worthy though it may be. Of course, I 


know it's useless to speak disparagingly of him to you since he's your ideal 
but . . . 

Higginson looked at his niece. Her eyes were shining with excite- 

— Oh Grandma, she said, — let him tell us about it. It's like the siege 
of Troy. And was the slave a girl, Uncle Wentworth ... a Helen carved 
in jet? 

— Louisa! said Madame Higginson. — I don't know where you young 
girls get your ideas nowadays. What possible difference would it make to 
my son if the Negro was male or female? 

— Well, said Louisa, — Mr. Garrison said that the mulattoes weren't 
all the children of Abolitionists. 

— What's that got to do with Wentworth? 

— Oh, nothing to do with Wentworth, Grandma . . . I just meant that 
some were. Oh, I don't know ... I just want to hear the story. She 
stopped, blushing and unstrung. 

— That's the result of the Brook Farm type of education, Mary. I'm 
glad that experiment passed on to an unlamented grave. 

— Well, said Higginson. — We were supposed to get some support from 
the meeting but it didn't come and some colored chaps and I broke down 
the door and got into the Courthouse, but we couldn't get up the stairs to 
where the man was confined. 

— Oh dear, said Mary. — Wasn't it dangerous? 

— Of course I was unarmed. Nobody but a door and myself got hurt. 

— I thought a man got killed, said the old lady shrewdly. 

— Well, yes, said Wentworth. — There was a man of the guard killed 
by his blundering companions. 

— How terrible, said Mary. — Did he have any family, Wentworth? 

— Yes. The paper said he left a wife and an interesting family. 

— Interested in preserving slavery, said the old lady with a shrug. 
Higginson smiled at her with a sudden rush of filial affection. This had 

been the point that he had been dreading. The rest would be easy. 

Mary was the most upset among them. She began to walk around the 
room, twisting her handkerchief in her hands, trying to keep from break- 
ing down. Madame Higginson got her purse and handed Mary the smell- 
ing salts. 

— What is it all going to come to, Wentworth? Mary said in a tearful 

— It will probably come to what I said in the beginning. I shall be 
arrested for resisting the Fugitive Slave Law. 


— Oh dear, Mary said, starting to cry and flinging down the smelling 
salts. — What will become of us? Surely you can't keep the church if 
you're in prison. 

— If I am arrested I shall consider it the highest honor ever attained by 
a Higginson. 

— Hear, hear, said the old lady, dryly. 

— I can't understand you, Wentworth, wailed Mary. — You act as if it 
were some great privilege! You'll be confined like a common thief. Per- 
haps you'll be . . . She stopped as her tears overcame her, unable to finish 
the horrible supposition. 

— Perhaps you'll be hanged, Uncle Wentworth, said Louisa, uncon- 
sciously smacking her lips. — You'll get blamed for the murder, I bet. 

— / bet, mocked Madame Higginson. — Is that the proper language for 
a young lady . . . even the niece of a notorious criminal? 

His latent hysteria, barely checked by a tremendous efTort of the will 
for hours on end, began to break loose. It was tugged this way and that 
way by the women: one treating him as a naughty child, another as a 
penny-dreadful adventurer and the third as a thoughtless and irresponsi- 
ble husband. His voice began to shake. It was high and unmanly. — I 
will use no deception. I will confess to breaking the Fugitive Slave Law. 
I have nothing to hide. I did not even strike a blow. I proudly went un- 
armed into danger, where armed men behind me shrunk from following. 
I felt that I could not arm myself conscientiously, but I could lead those 
who were less scrupulous in their means of protection . . . and then they 
did not follow. 

His wife turned her back on him, shaking her head in anguish. His 
mother looked at her a moment and said tartly, — Cheer up, Mary. It will 
blow over. They're not going to hang him for such a boyish prank, such 
a wild impulse. 

— It was not an impulse, Mother, he said, speaking slowly and fighting 
to keep his jaw from trembling. — It was a well-laid plan, involving a 
great many important people. 

Madame Higginson sat back in her chair. She let out a long breath and 
looked from one to the other, wondering which line she should take now. 
Both needed her help. — I can see the day coming, she said in a placid 
voice, — when every jail will have a boardinghouse attached for anti- 
slavery wives. 

— Will the jailer read your letters? said Mary, holding up her head. 

— Not if he writes them in his usual handwriting, said young Louisa, 
taking her cue for mood from the grandmother. 


He turned to look at his wife, picking nervously at the new scab on his 
chin, trying to get under control. 

— Don't pick at it, Wentworth. It'll make it worse, said his mother. She 
got up and went to look closely at him. She reached up and took hold of 
his chin. He tried to turn away. — Hold still, she said. — You've got a 
mean-looking scratch there. 

— It's a saber cut, he said angrily. — A man swung a saber over his 
head and took me on the chin. 

Mary burst into sobs again. 

— Well, it was a glancing blow, he said, more moderately. — It's all 
right now. 

— Oh hush up, Mary, commanded his mother. — Stop sniveling. She 
gave Tom a soft pat with her hand on the other cheek. — So that's why 
you couldn't come to the picnic. Well, we're proud of you, son, jail or no 
jail. And if the Higginsons start growling I'll tell them my son's the best 
of the lot, and I'll mean it. Now come upstairs and let me put some court 
plaster on that scratch, that saber cut. 

— No, Mother. I've got to be at a meeting at the Lyceum in a few min- 
utes. I've got to give some kind of a report on what happened. 

— Well, they haven't got to see what happened, have they? There's 
been blood enough in this thing. If there are so many people aroused and 
such prominent ones, why don't they buy the man and put an end to it? 
A dollar each from a thousand people could settle the whole thing. I'd 
gladly give my widow's mite and I'm sure the meeting tonight could raise 
three or four hundred dollars right here in Worcester. 

— No, no, said Tom. — That would . . . 

— You march upstairs, said Madame Higginson. — It's time someone 
with plain common sense took over the direction of this affair. 

Mr. Leonard Grimes, in his neat suit of rusty black, got into places 
where Parker's leaflets and even Parker himself could never go. He walked 
softly into the parlors of the rich, not taking a seat and not being asked to 
and not dropping his hat from his hand and not being asked to; armored 
in his humility. He went away empty-handed from some of the richest 
men in Boston but he was never turned away. 

Some gave with the provision that the slave was to be taken out of the 
Courthouse that night, and that if the affair was prolonged and broke into 
the Sabbath, the pledge would be unredeemable. Mr. Grimes agreed and 


was grateful. At seven o'clock he went back to the Marshal's office with 
pledges for eight hundred dollars. 

Mr. Willis had agreed to meet him there and was pleased at the result 
of Mr. Grimes's quiet canvassing. He wrote out a check to cover the 
amount and they sat around a bit to wait for Junior Counsel Kerr who 
was to direct the closing of the sale. But Counsel Kerr sent a messenger 
to inform them that the meeting would have to be postponed until ten 
o'clock because he was trying to raise some money himself and was hav- 
ing very bad luck at it. Mr. Grimes marveled that Lawyer Kerr should 
put himself out to help the fugitive and expressed the thought that Law- 
yer Kerr was a very fine man. But the cynical broker, Hamilton Willis, 
opined that Kerr was probably worried about his fee. 

The two gentlemen went out canvassing together, seeking out the solid 
men of the countinghouses and the pigeon-holes, trying to change the 
iron spine of State Street into flowing gold, trying to get flat green poul- 
tices to soothe the shameful red of the blistered epidermis of Boston town. 

By eight-thirty, they were still far short of their quota and Mr. Grimes 
was beginning to wonder if it had been a mistake to go out this way with 
Hamilton Willis. There was a friendlier atmosphere at the houses and 
Mr. Grimes was almost accepted on equal terms. Hamilton's friends ad- 
mired him for doing this fine democratic thing. And they thought even 
more of him when he gracefully declined offered refreshment, thus re- 
moving the awkwardness that might arise at having Mr. Grimes served 
by one of their Irish servants. It was splendid of Hamilton, really splendid, 
and showed his good upbringing. It was so much easier to say no to him, 
because he was one of their own and he knew of the constant demands 
made on their charity. 

Mr. Grimes was now beginning to drop back a little as they walked 
from house to house, hoping that Hamilton would think him tired and 
excuse him. Then he could go out again on his own. But Hamilton would 
wait for him when he got noticeably in the rear and make some friendly 
remark about the heat of the evening and the fact that Mr. Grimes wasn't 
getting any younger. 

Finally Hamilton sensed that the lagging and the patient, troubled, side- 
long glances were caused by his contributing lack of success. He stopped 
for a moment and pulled a little notebook out of his pocket. 

— Well, it looks, Mr. Grimes, as though I would have to make a call 
that I've been putting oflf until the last ditch. There's a certain family in 
this town that you'd know if I mentioned their name. They've been 
mixed up many times before in this slave business and always on the other 

i 5 6 

side. I'm going to call on them and put the question very simply. I have 
an idea I might be well rewarded for my audacity. 

— Yes, Mr. Willis. If you think it's all right it will do no harm to try, 
said Mr. Grimes. 

— Why don't you wait here, Mr. Grimes? I won't temporize with 
them. I'm sure I'll be back shortly and with a sizable contribution. He 
took the list and walked quickly down Summer Street. Mr. Grimes waited 
sadly, completely unnerved by the hearty, schoolboy, fair-play philan- 
thropy of Mr. Hamilton Willis. His expression did not change when 
Hamilton came bouncing back ten minutes later. 

— Look at this, said Hamilton, furtively showing him the paper. 
— Look at those signatures for one hundred dollars apiece! 

Mr. Grimes could not read the scribbling very well in the last dim glow 
of the twilight. Hamilton took the paper away from him and folded it 
with the care given a state document containing great secrets. 

— Charles P. and Thomas B. Curtis, the stepbrothers of Judge Loring, 
he said. Mr. Grimes nodded his head in wonder over the complexities of 
the white man's world. 

— Now . . . now . . . there's only one more call to make and the thing 
will be settled, said Willis, stuttering in his excitement. His round and 
pleasant face was shining with triumph and his slightly protuberant eyes 
blinked out his great satisfaction with this coup. 

Mr. Grimes did not follow his implication, but he had a sense of fore- 
boding. . . . Mr. Willis was about to attempt some trick; had found in 
his impetuous white man's way a substitute for the humble, unaffected 
soliciting of a certain amount of cash to be paid down without intrinsic 
significance for value received. ... It never worked, thought Mr. Grimes, 
but they always tried it. Yankees love a bargain. 

— I'm going to ask Theodore Parker for a contribution to make up the 
difference, said Willis. 

Mr. Grimes shook his head doubtfully. — I wouldn't bother Mr. Parker, 
he said. — He's not a rich man. 

— Oh, he's got a dollar, said Willis. — He's got the richest private li- 
brary in Boston. But think of what it will mean to have his name at the 
head of the list, just under the Curtises! That will show that both parties 
are agreed to close out the question and make peace. What have we got 
to lose? Your man will get his freedom and Colonel Suttle will be paid 
for his trouble. The soldiers can be dismissed and the City get back to 
normal. It will mean a pleasant Sabbath and a calm week ahead instead 
of all this senseless wrangling and turmoil. The names of Curtis and 


Parker, cheek by jowl at the head, will be like a handshake between 
them. The Curtises have signed and now it's up to Parker. Of the two 
I should think he would be the most forgiving, being a clergyman. Oh, 
I know he'll be a sportsman about this, I know he isn't as bad as he's 

Parker met them at his door with a pistol in his hand. He led them 
upstairs to his study without comment, and tossed the gun carelessly on 
his desk. Mr. Grimes observed with a shock that another pistol was resting 
on top of the Holy Bible. 

— Sit down, gentlemen, said Parker. He noticed the Negro's sad eyes 
resting on the gun. — Don't be shocked about the weapons, Mr. Grimes, 
I beg of you. During the Revolution many ministers wrote their sermons 
with a pistol on their desks. It isn't the first time I've answered the door 
with one in my hand, although I've never had it to protect myself before. 
There's Grandfather's musket up there over the fireplace and the King's 
Arm he captured on Lexington Green. I wonder what he would have 
thought of this business. 

Mr. Willis was appalled. He considered it the zenith of bad taste for a 
man of God to be fondling a weapon while at this very moment in 
Charlestown, the widow of Batchelder was mourning her dead husband, 
the victim of a weapon like the one, or perhaps the very one, that Parker 
displayed so brazenly. He froze into bitter dislike. 

Mr. Grimes, after waiting fruitlessly for Willis to put the question, said 
timidly, — Reverend Parker! Mr. Willis and myself are raising a sum of 
money to purchase Mr. Burns, and we thought perhaps you might like to 
make a contribution. 

Parker stared a moment at Grimes in disbelief, then buried his face in 
his hands to hide a red flush of anger. 

There was a long silence and then Willis said curtly, — We haven't 
much time. The sale must take place tonight in order for us to use all our 

— I'm sorry, said Parker harshly, — but I have nothing to contribute to 
this cause but bullets and brains. 

— That's what I thought, said Willis. — Come along, Mr. Grimes. 
Grimes stood his ground, bowing his head as if expecting a blow. He 

said, — I must say I'm surprised, Mr. Parker. You and Mr. Hallett are the 
only ones that have stood against us in this humane thing. And it is hu- 
mane if Tony gets free. 

— How will he get free ? demanded Parker. — Who's going to sign the 
bill of sale? God? 

I 5 8 

— Judge Loring has agreed to draw it up and the Colonel will sign it, 
continued Grimes doggedly. 

— Oh, Edward God will draw it up? 

— We only thought where everything looks so hopeless, it would . . . 
Willis cut sharply into Mr. Grimes's soft avowal. 

— Don't apologize, Mr. Grimes. Some people thrive on trouble. They 
don't want freedom for the slave. They want treason for themselves. Good 
night, Mr. Parker. He started abruptly out. Parker stopped him. 

— Just a minute, gentlemen. You are not alone in your belief that there 
are many people like myself who seem to exploit these matters in strange 
and violent ways. But we don't do it for ourselves. I have a frail young 
wife. Wendell Phillips's wife has been bedridden for years. This morning, 
while I was buying the meat for Sunday dinner, my market man told me 
that a group of truckmen friends of Batchelder were intending to attack 
Wendell and myself tonight. I have sent Mrs. Parker to sleep at her aunt's. 
Do you think we like this kind of trouble coming to our house? We want 
to live in peace. But we can't buy peace. You can, Mr. Willis, and perhaps 
Tony Burns can, but we can't. 

— We're thinking now of Tony Burns, said Mr. Grimes, gently 

— Sad case, yes. But not the only one. These pistols have protected a 
score of slaves on their way to Canada. I should have hated to foot the bills 
for them all. Do you remember William and Ellen Crafts, Mr. Grimes? 

— Yes, sir. She was a very light mulatto, wasn't she? 

— As light as my own dear wife. They were my parishioners and there 
was a warrant put out on them as well. When we tried to raise money to 
send them to Canada, some old hen insisted that they be married. They 
were man and wife, but they had never gone through a ceremony. I be- 
lieve they frown on that sort of thing in Virginia. I got them a license 
from City Hall and married them in Lewis Hayden's house in Southac 
Street. There was a pistol on the desk beside the Bible and I put it in his 
hand. Then I gave him the Bible. I told him it possessed the truths of the 
human race and to make use of it. I told him the pistol contained a kind 
of truth that he must use to protect the life and body of his wife even if it 
meant digging his own grave and the grave of a thousand men. As a 
minister of religion, I put into his hands these two dissimilar instruments, 
one for the body if need be, one for his soul in all events. 

— And what happened to him? inquired Willis, fascinated now in spite 
of himself. 

— Well, they got away. But first William walked the streets of Boston 


and to those who offered to buy him from his master he said, — I wouldn't 
give the man two cents for all his right to me. I buy myself, but not with 
gold; with iron. 

Willis stared at the implacable man. This was unsportsmanlike but there 
was a great gallantry there. — We'd better go now. It's nearly ten, he said 
to Grimes. He gave Parker his hand, surprising himself. — Mr. Parker, 
wouldn't you like to have me drop in the Essex Street Station and have 
Captain Easton keep his men on the alert for prowlers? 

— Thank you, Mr. Willis. It wouldn't do for a well-known lawbreaker 
like myself to ask for its protection. 

Mr. Grimes held out his hand. Parker took and held it a moment, 
placing his other one over it. 

— Don't get your hopes too high over this thing, Mr. Grimes. I'm sure 
Hallett won't allow the man to be taken out of the Marshal's custody until 
after the trial. 

— Then why hasn't he stopped it? He's kept out of it except for dis- 
couraging contributions. It said in the papers that he'd agreed to it. 

— I'll admit I'm puzzled myself at that, said Parker. — But I'm sure it 
stems from weakness rather than conviction. Perhaps he'll let it go ahead 
for a while, long enough to make people believe the man is to be bought, 
and let their anger and protests subside. Then he'll stop it. 

— I hope you are wrong, said Mr. Grimes sadly. 

— You join a great multitude in that wish, Mr. Grimes, Parker said, 
showing them out the door. 

He walked around his study, looking at his books and wondering if 
they would suffer pillage and plunder that night. He piled the rarest 
on his desk, thinking to evacuate them if the trouble broke. He opened 
a drawer and stacked up a great untidy pile of foolscap on which was 
scrawled his magnum opus ... his synthesis of all the religions since 
the beginning of man. These two heaps were his miser's hoard, the things 
he thought he prized above all. 

Or was it all? No; he turned his back on them without another thought 
and went to the fireplace and lifted down from the chimney breasts the 
two old muskets and ran his hand caressingly over the rusty iron. 

With them under his arm, he tiptoed down the stairs and out into the 
street, walking for a while like a man on thin ice. But then he hugged the 
old guns to his breast and went off down Essex Street to find a hiding 
place for his treasures, two old pieces of iron and wood, stained with the 
grass of Lexington Green. 

# # # # # 

1 60 

When Mr. Grimes and Willis got back to the Courthouse there was 
another delay while Counsels Thomas and Kerr restored the Colonel's 
fading humanitarianism with the evidence of the completed sum of twelve 
hundred dollars. It was at eleven o'clock that all parties concerned got 
together in Judge Loring's office and watched him draw up the bill of 

Know all men by these presents, that I, Charles F. Suttle, of 
Alexandria in Virginia, in consideration of twelve hundred dollars 
to me paid, do hereby release and discharge, quitclaim and convey 
to Anthony Burns his liberty; and I hereby manumit and release 
him from all claims and service to me forever, hereby giving him his 
liberty to all intents and effects forever. In testimony whereof I have 
hereunto set my hand and seal, this twenty-seventh day of May, in 
the year of Our Lord eighteen hundred and fifty-four. 

After everyone had admired this deft instrument, a messenger was sent 
to Marshal Freeman to request his attendance at the office. The messenger 
came back with news of his refusal. The happy bubble raised by the pre- 
liminaries began to deflate. Mr. Grimes began to wish he hadn't sent a 
message up to Tony to be prepared to leave his jailers in a matter of min- 
utes. He was almost tempted to go out and dismiss the hack that he had 
hired and which stood at the entrance to the Courthouse, ready to carry 
Tony of! to a great jubilee at the church where even now a watchnight 
service was going on. But he felt a little better when the Judge, with 
unaccustomed vigor, gathered up his papers and led the way over to 
the Marshal's office with every intention of settling the matter there 
and then. 

Marshal Freeman stood at the door and gave way as the purchasing 
party came in, but there in the middle of the floor, like an angry and melo- 
dramatic exclamation point, stood Ben Hallett. 

Judge Loring walked around him as though he were as out of place as 
a totem pole and took a place at Watson Freeman's desk. He looked up 
at Watson in his best courtroom manner and said, — Marshal, Colonel 
Suttle has presented me with the proper instrument to discharge or manu- 
mit this man from the custody of this court, and in your presence I wish 
to complete a transaction whereby a group of Boston philanthropists pur- 
chase for the sum of . . . 

— Just a minute, Judge, said Ben. — That figure mentioned in the trans- 
action . . . twelve hundred dollars, I believe it is . . . may be quite satis- 


factory for the Colonel, but there are other expenses that have occurred in 
this incident that can only be settled by the full trial and rendition of the 

— I believe this matter is under the Marshal's jurisdiction, Mr. Hallett, 
said the Judge. 

— I am acting as his attorney, Judge. Right, Watson? 
Watson nodded sadly. 

— In any case, Mr. Hallett, I don't think your, pardon me, your client's 
objection is valid. I am sure that the Government will bear the expense 
incurred so far in this affair. 

— That's where you're wrong, Judge, if I may be so bold. The U. S. 
Government won't pay a damned cent unless the man is remanded under 
the proper legal condition. 

The Judge's hands shook a little as he drew out a copy of the Fugitive 
Slave Act. — According to the bill ... he said, and then put it down. 
The words ran together before his eyes. Something told him not to get 
involved in any talk about money. He laid the paper aside. 

Ben took up the copy of the Fugitive Slave Law and read it through 
from beginning to end. It took considerable time and the mounting ten- 
sion had begun to affect the Colonel so much that he walked furtively into 
the darkened inner office and took a drink from a pint flask. Mr. Grimes 
sat with his hands folded and prayed. Judge Loring suspected Ben was 
up to some legal hocus-pocus but could not overcome his habitual courtesy 
with enough force to interrupt. 

Ben laid aside the transcript of the law and came up with another ob- 
jection. — That's all very well, but there happens to be a law of Massa- 
chusetts prohibiting the sale of human flesh. It's against the law to slave- 
trade in this state. Let me cite, your Honor, Chapter 125, Section 20 . . . 
Ah . . . Any person who shall sell, or in any manner transfer for any 
term, the service or labor of any Negro who shall have been unlawfully 
seized or fydnaped from this state to any other state, place or country, shall 
be punished by imprisonment in the State Prison not more than ten years 
or by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars and imprisonment in the 
county jail not more than ten years. 

— Oh come now, Hallett, said the Judge hotly. — That point is far- 
fetched. You know very well that law is not applicable to the case at hand. 
That law was not framed with the intent of preventing a man from being 
sold into freedom, but against selling him into slavery. 

Colonel Suttle lurched into the picture with such belligerence that Ben 
involuntarily threw up his hand to protect himself. 


The Colonel placed a loving arm around the slight shoulders of the 

— By God, nobody's goin' to put this here Judge in jail without fightin' 
me for it. Suppose he did draw up a Bill of Sale. Suppose he did not think, 
under the agitation of the time . . . and I give him great credit for it. 
I consider this Bill of Sale a charitable act. You're saying, Mr. Attorney, 
that he shouldn't have drawed that Bill of Sale. Well, I consider it a very 
charitable act. I would like to know why the Judge ought not to draw up 
the Bill of Sale as well as any other man. He is not sworn not to draw up 
Bills of Sales for the freedom of his countrymen. 

The Judge turned away, hurt more by this drunken defense than by 
Ben's insinuation. 

— Please, Colonel, sign this bill and accept the money and get this over 

As the Colonel reached for the quill, Ben pointed solemnly at the clock. 
— You may go through with this mock ceremony if you like, Judge, but 
the Marshal and I will continue to hold the man and continue prosecution 
in some court. Look at the clock, gentlemen. It's after twelve. The Sabbath 
has commenced. That signature will not be legal. Good night, gentlemen. 

It was true. Ben had won again. The Judge gathered up the papers and 
said to Mr. Grimes : — It can be done at eight o'clock on Monday morn- 
ing. Come to my office then, and it can be settled in five minutes. 

Nobody said good night to Watson Freeman as he stood by the door. 
But Mr. Grimes had to say something. 

— Mr. Freeman. Fve told Mr. Burns that he will be freed tonight. Could 
I go up and tell him about the delay? He'll spend a restless night if I 

— I'll tell him, Mr. Grimes. Good night. 

When the door closed, Watson turned to Ben, stretching out his arms 
and whining, — Why Ben? Why? 

Ben took a folded telegraph message out of his pocket and handed it to 

Your conduct is approved. The law must be executed. Franklin 

Mr. Grimes stumbled down the steps. It had been a hard day for a 
humble man, planting his tender soul before the abrasive antennae of the 
rich, begging them to give money to evade a law. And he had done well 
and known triumph up to a point. Now that the twelve hundred dollars 
had melted away, he thought of the fifty cents he owed the hackman still 


standing outside. He went over to pay and dismiss him and the door 
opened and Theodore Parker leaned out. 

— Is this your cab, Mr. Grimes? I've been waiting to hear the news. 

— It's no longer my cab, Mr. Parker. And as yet we have no news. 

— Let me drop you at your house, Mr. Grimes. 

— No, thank you, sir. I'd rather walk. 

He started wearily down Court Street to the church, trying to think of 
a way to break the news to the people watching and praying and singing 
in the upper room. 

Parker watched him a minute and then told the cabman to drive to 
21 Cornhill. He had another important leaflet that had to be on the streets 
by church time. A leaflet to prevent the lulling and the soothing and the 
dispersal of force and arms; a little vinegar to thin down the sugary scum 
cloying the issue of Anthony Burns versus the insolence of office, the pangs 
of despised color, and the law's delay. 

The Man Is Not Bought 

He is still in the slave pen, in the Courthouse 

The Kidnapper agreed, both publicly and in writing, to sell him 
for twelve hundred dollars. The sum was raised by eminent Boston 
citizens and offered him. The bargain was broken by the U. S. Com- 

Be on your guard against all lies! 

Watch the Slave Pen 
Let every man attend the Trial 

He was not omniscient, but he was at least as smart as Ben Hallet. 




On Sunday, the moral climate of Boston was fixed for the week by the 
tongues in the pulpit and the pens in the press. And in the pulpit of the 
Twenty-Eighth Congregational Society, the barometer was set for most of 
the country. The man who stood at that desk was the only preacher in the 
nation whose sermons were reported from beginning to end in the New 
Yor\ Tribune. They were garbled in the Boston press and nearly always 
set against a damning editorial, but it didn't matter there because the 
people who were rightly affected by them went to listen to the man him- 
self. Unfortunately, many went there in the same spirit that they went to 
their newspaper, thirsty for knowledge and stimulation. Some even 
brought newspapers with them into their seats and came in after the 
prayer and left after the sermon, banging the doors that led out into the 
promenade corridor on both sides of the auditorium. 

It wasn't really a church, of course, but a music hall, a very high-grade 
music hall, built under the leadership of Jonas Chickering, the great piano 
maker. It was a dedicated place, without pink Venuses stripped to the 
waist riding pink clouds over the ceiling. There was a massive bust of 
Beethoven rearing up in arrogance instead of the humble suspension of a 
bleeding heart, but it was still a dedicated place. 

On Sundays, it was the biggest church in Boston, seating over two thou- 
sand on its vast floor and double tiers of galleries. The corporation that 
owned it as an investment had rented it out to the preacher with tongue 
in cheek, slyly snaring his supporters with a full year's lease. It had 
laughed at the thought of the preacher standing ineffectually in all that 
real estate with his faithful followers spread out like walnuts on a cake. 
They knew that other preachers of his denomination, or rather in what 
he professed as his denomination, would not allow him to occupy their 
pulpits and that he was allowed little space for self-advertisement in the 
tracts and publications of his sect. They knew that their site had been 


chosen because all of the smaller halls had been engaged or bluntly refused 
to him. 

But he was not smothered by the vast silence between the acreage of the 
floor, the pin-point seats in the curving tiers and the vaulted ceiling. Two 
thousand people beat back the silence, sweeping in on Sunday morning 
like a tide, slamming down the seats and rattling their papers and press- 
ing as no other congregation in the world to the frontmost seats, to catch 
every word from the preacher's mouth. 

There was little to invoke reverence there: no altar, no stained glass, no 
communion rail, no wine and wafers. There were some flowers on a table 
and the preacher. What reverence there was came from him and his 
prayers. And that was the reverence that comes from beholding an honest 
man who is also articulate and reckless ... a man whom you have to 
trust because he stands up and says things that can only get him into 
trouble. The words he gave were dangerous and therefore costly and 
therefore precious, and some people who were childishly sentimental 
about courage held them as very dear. 

On this morning the preacher, coming into his church with his wife 
and a friend, found a paper tacked against the main door of the edifice. 
He looked at it with interest because it reminded him of Luther and his 
Proclamation. But this paper was of death; an epitaph . . , 

Here lies the body of 

James Batchelder 

who in the performance of his duty 

as a policeman 

defending the law and its sanctity 

from illegal force and violence 

was murdered by a mob instigated to riot 

and bloodshed 

in the name of humanity and freedom 


Theodore Parker 
minister of the gospel of peace 

and Wendell Phillips 
wealthy citizen of boston 


1 66 

— Tear it down, Mr. Ellis, said the preacher's wife to the preacher's 

— Let it be, said the preacher. 

— But, Theodore . . . said his wife. 

— Let it be. 

Just before churchtime, Julia Howe went looking for her husband. He 
was not a regular churchgoer, preferring, as he said, to pray with his hands 
and feet. Mrs. Howe was devoted to Theodore Parker. To her, he was the 
one and only oracle of God. From his pulpit he sang to her like an arch- 
angel and she seldom failed to leave the Music Hall without exultation 
enough to sustain the long ride on the lumbering omnibus to South Bos- 
ton where they lived, and have a little left to dismiss complaints of the 
dinner kept waiting and everybody starving. 

To the doctor, Parkie, as he called him, was a little less than di- 
vine; and he sometimes felt, as he listened to one of his sermons, that 
Parker was dropping hot coals one by one down his throat. The doctor 
felt that sermons and church and all that should appeal to the heart rather 
than to the head. For this reason, he had taken himself off to his office in 
the Perkins Institute, which stood near his home. 

He heard Julia running up the stairs to the office, which was on the 
second floor over the salesroom where the things made by the blind peo- 
ple were displayed. He walked quickly over to the Franklin stove and 
bent as if he were about to give it a good cleaning. 

Julia stopped in dismay as she came in. — Oh, Chev . . . It's almost 
time for the bus. Let me see your hands. 

The doctor had not had time enough to dirty them. She had seen 
through his ruse. He decided to take a bold stand and settle the question 
once and for all. 

— Come. The children are waiting for us, Julia said. 

— Julia, he said, stroking his beard and looking out at the mud flats of 
the Harbor, — I think it is time for us to change our place of worship. 

She looked at him in astonishment. 

— Well, he said. — Haven't you anything to say? 

— How can I? I'm dumfounded at such a statement. 

— The children are now of an age at which they should receive impres- 
sions of reverence. They should, therefore, see nothing at Sunday service 
which would militate against that feeling. 

— Why, Sam, what irreverence has Theodore Parker ever displayed? 


— I'm not referring to him, of course. But what about the people who 
read newspapers before the sermon begins? I've seen them eating. I've 
seen women knitting. A great many people come in after the prayer and 
some people leave before the sermon is over ... as if it were an exhibi- 
tion of some sort. 

— What have they to do with us? I'm sure our children are reverent, 
and have reverence for Mr. Parker. Why, he baptized little Julia. 

— These irregularities offend my sense of decorum and appear to me 
undesirable in the religious education of my family. He turned abruptly 
and sat down at his desk, watching her out of the corner of his eye. 

— This doesn't sound at all like you, Sam. I thought he was one of your 
dearest friends. 

— He is, but that's got nothing to do with it. He's a preacher. I'm a 
doctor. He doesn't come to me when he's sick, does he? 

— You don't mean . . . ? 

— Of course not. He has many doctor friends. Besides, he's a bad type 
of patient. He always reads up on everything and contradicts you. No. 
It's just that . . . Well, he just doesn't magnetize my organ of veneration. 

— Where would you prefer to go? To the Episcopal church with Ben 

He ignored this cut. — I rather like the Swedenborg chapel. It's peace- 
ful there. He paused. — I see him three times a week, Julia, and he's 
always the same. 

— Would you have a preacher one man on Sunday and another through 
the week. 

— He's like a terrible Turk. Why does he hack away at the heads of 
Boston merchants, none of whose kith and kin come to see him? Why 
does he say that, without our revolution, France would not have had 
hers? . . . Tell me: do you get any spiritual solace out of such discus- 
sions ? 

— Yes, I do. I like to see him lash out at the smug and virtuous 
ones. He's a truthful man, Sam. He cuts away at everything old and 
rotten. Maybe he does spread himself out too much, as far one way as 
Garrison and almost as far the other way as an infidel. But it's true, Sam. 
Well, I'm going. We'll talk about this later. We can go to other churches. 
It would be an injustice to him to force you or the children to go there. 

— Wait. I'm coming. Perhaps I shouldn't have raised the question right 

— •- He needs us now, Sam. He's in trouble. 

— I didn't mean we should stop all at once ... or altogether. 


— I think you should tell him. He'll miss us. He looks for us. 

Dr. Howe walked down the stairs after his wife, sadly reflecting on the 
futility of winning a point in such a battle. 

— I told him, he said. 

— Did you read him that speech you had prepared for me? I saw it on 
your desk. I hope you didn't mention the people eating and the news- 

— Of course not. We had a nice discussion about it. 

— Did you tell him he was not reverent or religious enough for you ? 

— Ye gods, no! Damn it, Julia. Don't you think that I would suppose 
that, in real and true religion, he is not higher, higher as the heaven than 
the earth, than I am or can be. I just told him I got more religious feeling 
of piety or devotion, or whatever you want to call it, from meek little 
Warren Burton than from him. 

— Does meek little Warren Burton cry when he reads the story of the 

The doctor let it rest there, remembering Parker angrily trying to con- 
trol his voice and roughly dashing the tears from his eyes on Easter 

Parker, sitting on the platform, thought of what Dr. Howe had told 
him. . . . The most painful criticism I have ever had. No one has ever 
said that I was not religious enough. Some have left because I preached 
against war; some because of slavery; some because I talked of the mis- 
deeds of politicians. Some didn't like what I said about drunkards and the 
liquor dealers who debauch them for a price. Some left because of my 
attacks on popular theology. Maybe that is being irreligious. . . . 

He looked out at the people beginning to arrive. Many of them were 
roughly dressed, and they did have papers under their arms. One old fel- 
low had a bag with him that looked like his breakfast. 

. . . Several have thought that the place is not respectable and that the 
audience was mostly grocers and mechanics. Good riddance to them. But 
truly it hurt to have someone go because the preaching was not religious 
enough. . . . 

He shifted uneasily in his chair. It was hard sometimes to sit here and 
watch them come in. Some of his friends suggested that he should wait 
until the crowd was seated and then come in as they were singing a hymn. 
But he had dismissed this idea as being too theatrical. He liked to walk 
directly to his chair and sit caressing the Book, looking out on his poly- 


glot flock. Sometimes he brought the flowers in and placed them himself 
on his desk. He had often broken off a sprig and passed it down to some 
child sitting with a shining Sunday face in the front row. 

It was hard to sit up there, as straight and unadorned as a pestle. He 
thought of the easy anonymity of a priest, entering silently among the 
faithful, lulled and dazzled by the power and glitter of the altar . . . 
moving in all the helpful stage business of a well-directed role . . . in- 
censing, genuflecting, shaking the thurible, adjusting the symbolic robes 
and veils, moving his hands, his back to the people in the remote and 
awesome sacrificial and sacramental acts . . . then turning, great with in- 
vocative magic, to face them, kneeling and hushed. 

His vision was shattered by the janitor shuffling across the stage on 
squeaky shoes and with a smooch of dust on his chin, to hand him a 
note. He opened it idly. It was a long one and written in a good hand. 


I would feel it my duty to address you by the title of Reverend, 
could I regard you as a Christian Minister, but as I hold you to be 
anything but a disciple of the meek and lowly Jesus who came to 
preach peace on earth and good will to men, and indeed to be one 
of the most irreverent of men, I cannot conscientiously do more 
than address you by the ordinary title of respect to an unclerical 

This much covered the first page, and Parker looked up quickly to ask 
the janitor who had favored him with this document; but the man had 
squeaked away, and the second page gave the answer well enough. 

This is to inform you that a party of Southerners will be present 
this morning to see and hear you desecrate the Lord's Day by your 
usual fanatic declarations against the South. It is, therefore, to be 
hoped that stimulated by the provocation of their presence and for 
their especial edification, you will pile up the agony as high as Mount 
Olympus for Mount Zion is, doubtless, too lowly for your purposes 
and aspirations. 

Some Harvard boy, he thought . . . one of Judge Loring's students. 
. . . But then it became very un-Harvard. 

Are you aware, sir, that in your crazy opposition to and warfare 
against slavery, you are arrogating to yourself a wisdom and a right- 
eousness which not only exceed those of the scribes and Pharisees, 


but are superior to those of God and Christ? God himself ordained 
slavery among the Jews. 

Now he could place it. It was an Amherst theological student, reflecting 
hours spent at the knee of Moses Stuart. 

Answer this if you can on this day, or forever after hold your 
peace. Yours, as you shall conform yourself to the Gospel Model. 

A South Carolinian 

Well ... he thought, as he thrust the letter into his pocket, the South 
Carolinian can go hang himself and take oft to Barnum's if he wants that 
kind of show. . . . Today he had resolved to keep off slavery for a change. 
He had prepared a good piece on the war in Russia. There were infer- 
ences there to the present situation, but nothing direct. And he had 
chosen a very pious Scripture lesson and plague take the Southern fire- 
eaters, trying to stir him up like a bear in a cage. 

It was Anniversary Week and the city was filled with Unitarian pil- 
grims. Already he recognized several country pastors in the hall. They 
came to see him as a curiosity and he was going to fool them and send 
them out chapfallen with a good, solid, intellectual, historical, philo- 
sophical sermon under their belts. 

He tried not to, but was forced to look over at the seats generally 
occupied by the Howes. They were vacant and he felt a wave of sadness 
and remorse. How many others had been grieved away with this lack of 
religion? He murmured a prayer: — God help me to know myself, that I 
may see how frail I am. ... He felt like a jilted suitor, running head- 
long to plead that he would change completely, ready to swear a new 
character and self, inside and out. . . . Perhaps if I hadn't worn a farm- 
er's smock so long and mowed hay and stormed around the land preach- 
ing tumult and controversy, I could get down into the deep places of 
men's hearts and give them that glow of man's desiring. If they would 
only come today and hear me. I can do my reforming the six other 
days. . . . 

Then he thought of the sheet tacked on the door and he was impelled 
to go and tear it down at that moment. He looked down front, and there 
he saw old Sam May. His nephew, Sam Joe, was called God's Chore Boy, 
but old Sam was content to be Parker's, although thirty years his senior. 
Old Sam looked up at him and nodded, reading the message in his face. 
He reached into his coat and showed him a folded paper. It was the epi- 
taph. Old Sam tore it carefully to bits and put them in his pocket. 


Parker began to feel less naked as the Music Hall filled up. The gal- 
leries were crowded and people began to stand at the back. He saw the 
ushers forcing the door shut and setting out chairs in the aisles, and he 
heard someone say that over five hundred would be turned away. 

Now he wished for a moment that he could let himself go free on the 
order of the day. He knew that there were many there waiting like sol- 
diers for a battle plan. He knew that he had half a mob and half a con- 
gregation. He knew they were expecting some plain talk. They needed it, 
God knows. And what they needed was restraint. But, chastened lover 
that he was, he had put away the sounding trumpet and the brazen cym- 
bals and bent his soul to be the lamb of God, meekly baa-ing down to the 
deep places in men's hearts. 

When he went to the desk to begin, he saw the Howes sitting in an un- 
accustomed place and the wolf growled beneath the skin. Next time . . . 
he thought . . . next time for piety. This time for truth. 

— I see by the face of each one of you, as well as by the number of all, 
what is expected of me today. I have been asked to extemporize a sermon. 
It is easier to do it than not. But I shall not extemporize a sermon for 
the day. I shall extemporize the Scripture. 

The Reverend Lynnford Baker of the First Church of Tyngsboro, sit- 
ting in the second gallery, nudged his neighbor, the Reverend Paul Pot- 
ter of Pepperell, with a great deal of shocked satisfaction, and they bent 
forward to get every word. 

The strong voice, weighted and a little harsh, like a trombone, filled the 
great hall. It was the voice that made the Music Hall possible. A com- 
mon run of voice, be it blessed with the eloquence and poetry of Solomon, 
could not have drawn and held people there. This voice had to be heard 
over the rattling of the Sunday papers and the munching of the break- 
fast buns. 

— I shall, therefore, pass by the Bible words which I had designed to 
read from the Old Testament and shall take the morning lesson from 
the circumstances of the week. The time has not yet come for me to preach 
a sermon on the great wrong that is now enacting in this city. The deed 
is not done. Any counsel that I have to offer is better given elsewhere 
than here; at another time than now. Neither you nor I are quite calm 
enough today to look the matter fairly in the face and see entirely what 
it means. I had planned to preach this morning on the subject of war, 
taking my theme from the commotions in Europe. Next Sunday I shall 
preach on the perils into which America is brought at this day. 

This announcement brought a great sigh from the audience, like that 


brought by a statement from the manager of a play that the star is ill 
and cannot appear that night. He heard it with satisfaction. 

— That is the theme for next Sunday. The other is for today. But 
before I proceed to that, I have some words to say in place of the 
Scripture lesson and instead of a selection from the Old Testament 

The Reverend Mr. Baker whispered to his friend: — Do you think we 
could stay over Sunday? Perhaps if we delayed some committee work . . . 

— Shush, said the other. — Listen to this. 

— Since last we came together, there has been a man stolen in this 
city of our fathers. It is not the first. It may not be the last. He is now 
in the great slave pen of the City of Boston. He is there against the law 
of the Commonwealth, which, if I am rightly informed in such cases, 
prohibits the use of state edifices as United States jails. Any forcible 
attempt to take him from the barracoon of Boston would be wholly 
without use. 

He stopped and looked over at some sturdy Worcester men. One 
nodded sadly in agreement but another looked glum and folded his arms 
with a defiant air. 

— For, besides the holiday soldiers who belong to the City of Boston 
and are ready to shoot down their brothers in a just or unjust cause any 
day . . . when the city government gives them its command and its 
liquor ... I understand that there are one hundred and eighty-four 
United States Marines lodged in the Courthouse, every man of them 
furnished with a musket and a bayonet, with his side arms and twenty- 
four ball cartridges. 

He threw this last sentence away, almost mumbling it, knowing the 
carelessness of the delivery would heighten the effect of the careful re- 

— They are stationed, also, in a very strong building and where five 
men in a passageway, half the width of this pulpit, can defend it against 
five-and-twenty or a hundred. 

He mopped his brow and looked again at the Worcester men. The 
defiant one had unfolded his arms and now sat with his legs crossed 
and his hand on his chin. Parker let his eyes rove a little, looking for 
South Carolinian. 

— A man has been killed by violence. Some say he was killed by his 
own coadjutors. I can easily believe it. There is evidence that they were 
greatly frightened. They were not soldiers but volunteers from the streets 
of Boston, who for their pay went into the Courthouse to assist in kid- 


naping a brother man. They were so cowardly that they could not use 
the simple cutlasses they had in their hands, but smote right and left, 
like the ignorant and frightened ruffians that they were. 

Parker made this a challenge, pausing a minute and looking out again; 
trying to see if Hallett and Freeman had sent any of the guard to the 

— They may have slain their brother or not. I cannot tell. It is said by 
some that they killed him. Another story is that he was killed by a hostile 
hand from without. Some say by a bullet, some by an ax, and others still, 
by a knife. As yet, nobody knows the facts. But a man has been killed. 
He was a volunteer in this service. He liked the business of enslaving 
a man and has gone to render an account to God for his gratuitous work. 
Twelve men have been arrested and are now in jail to await their ex- 
amination for willful murder. 

— Here then is one man. butchered and twelve men brought in peril 
of their lives. Why is this? Whose fault is this? 

— You remember the meeting in Faneuil Hall last Friday when even 
the words of my friend Wendell Phillips, the most eloquent words that 
get spoken in America, in this century, could hardly restrain the multi- 
tude from storming the Courthouse and tearing it to the ground. What 
stirred them up? It was the spirit of our fathers. The spirit of justice and 
liberty in your hearts . . . 

He paused for a moment, lest it sound too stereotyped and Fourth-of- 
Julyish, and then said: 

— And in my heart. 

He looked out at the audience a little contritely, wanting to smile in 
spite of the gravity of the moment. There were many other smiles look- 
ing back at him. 

— Sometimes, he said, shifting to a conversational tone, — sometimes it 
gets the better of a man's prudence . . . He stopped again to mop his 
brow, letting this part stand as a half-apology for getting mixed up in 
such a fiasco. 

— Boston is the most peaceful of cities. Why ? Because we have a peace 
worth keeping. No city respects laws so much. Because the laws are made 
by the people, for the people, and are laws that respect justice. Here is 
a law that the people will not keep. It is the law of our Southern mas- 
ters. A law not fit to keep. 

— Why is Boston in this confusion today ? The Fugitive Slave Bill Com- 
missioner has just now been sowing the wind that we may reap the whirl- 
wind. Judge Loring is a man whom I have respected and honored. His 

i 74 

private life is blameless, as far as I know. His character has entitled him 
to the esteem of his fellow citizens. He is a respectable man, in the Bos- 
ton sense of the word and in a much higher sense. At least I have thought 
so. He is a kindhearted, charitable man, a good neighbor, a fast friend, 
generous with his purse, a kind father, a good relative. And I should 
as soon have expected that venerable man who sits before me, born before 
your Revolution — I should have as soon expected him to kidnap Robert 
Morris or any of the other colored men I see around me as I should have 
expected Judge Loring to do this thing. 

Parker held his finger on Sam May sitting in perfect composure with 
his white beard and hair luminous in the May light. 

— But he has sown the wind and we are reaping the whirlwind. I need 
not say what I now think of him. He is to act tomorrow. Let us wait 
and see. Perhaps there is manhood in him yet. But, my friends, all this 
confusion is his work. He knew he was stealing a man born with the same 
right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as himself. He knew 
the slaveholders had no more right to Anthony Burns than to his own 
daughter. He knew the consequences of stealing a man. He knew that 
there are men in Boston who have not yet conquered their prejudices; 
men who respect the higher law of God. He knew there would be a 
meeting in Faneuil Hall and a gathering in the streets. He knew there 
would be violence. 

Mrs. Howe looked aside at the doctor. He was making an unpleasing 
slapping noise by punching his fist into his open palm. — Reverence, 
Doctor, she whispered. — Unclench your fist and concentrate on your 
bump of veneration. 

Parker held for a long pause. The word violence hung incompletely 
in the air. The final chord of a tutti. He took an eight-beat count as 
deftly and accurately as a conductor, then brought down his hand on the 
pulpit with a thump. 

— Edward Greely Loring, Judge of Probate for the County of Suffolk, 
Fugitive Slave Commissioner of the United States . . . before these citi- 
zens of Boston, assembled to worship God, I charge you with the death 
of that man who was killed last Friday night. He was your fellow servant 
in kidnaping. He dies at your hand. You fired the shot that made his 
wife a widow; his child an orphan. I charge you with peril of twelve 
men, arrested for murder and on trial for their lives. I charge you with 
filling the Courthouse with one hundred and eighty-four hired ruffians 
of the United States and alarming not only this city for her liberties that 
are in peril, but stirring up the whole Commonwealth of Massachusetts 


with indignation, which no man knows how to stop; which no man can 
stop. You have done it all. This is my lesson for the day. 

The congregation let out their breaths with a mighty sigh, like a great 
cheer, sotto voce. Some in the galleries got up and stretched in sheer ex- 
citement . . . slamming their seats, before they sat again, to get the im- 
pulse to make noise and commotion out of their system. Parker hurriedly 
shuffled his notes and announcements, seeking to hold down the temper 
rising to the vaulted ceilings. He held one up finally and began to read it 
in a humdrum tone. 

— I have here a request which I will read. Anthony Burns, now in 
prison and in danger of being sent into slavery, most earnestly as\s your 
prayers and that of your congregation, that God would remember him 
in his great distress and deliver him from this peril. And it is signed by 
the Reverend Leonard Grimes and Deacon Coffin Pitts. 

He laid it down with great care. 

— This is the old and tried and true form for such requests, but I do 
not like it. It seems to ask God to do our work. God is never backward 
in doing His work, and we should do ours. I cannot ask God to work 
a miracle to save this man, although if He does see fit to do so, it would 
be received with proper sentiments of reverence and gratitude. I have 
another request here in another form which I like better. It is addressed 
to all Christian Ministers of Boston. 

— Brothers: / venture humbly to as\ an interest in your prayers and 
those of your congregations that I may be restored to the natural and 
inalienable rights with which I am endowed by the Creatoi" and espe- 
cially to the enjoyment of the blessing of liberty, which, it is said, this 
government was ordained to secure. Signed, Anthony Burns. Boston 
Slave Pen. May 24th, 1854, . . . And now let us pray. 

— Dear God, Father and Mother of us all . . . 

The Curtis family headed the Union-saving faction in Boston politics. 
Besides that, they were rich and powerful enough to control the city like 
a fief and have it called "Curtisdom" by their impotent opposition. 

Their best spokesman was a Justice of the United States Supreme 
Court. He had clinched the tenuous ties of mere cousinship by marrying 
the daughter of Charles P. Curtis, principal heir of old Thomas Curtis, 
who had built up one of Boston's greatest fortunes as an Indian merchant. 
Charles P. was a lawyer. His brother, Thomas, Junior, was a merchant; 
and the half-brother to both was Edward G. Loring, Judge of Probate 


and the United States Commissioner now sitting on the case of Anthony 

Justice Benjamin Robbins Curtis had got his appointment to the high 
bench after his marriage, and the family took credit for it. It had been ar- 
ranged by Webster after the death of old Justice Woodbury. The Justice 
was known as a brilliant jurist and was equal to the office. He was a well- 
built man, sedate in dress, walked and stood with the port befitting his 
office, but his father-in-law never let him forget that he had achieved prom- 
inence when Charles had made him chairman of the meeting in Faneuil 
Hall that had given Boston's endorsement to the Fugitive Slave Bill. 

It was a meeting that Judge Curtis would have liked to forget. It was 
there he had made some glancing remark about a clergyman in the town 
counseling perjury to witnesses and jurymen in slave trials. . . . — I should 
like to ask the reverend gentleman in what capacity he expects to be pun- 
ished for this perjury? ... It was one of those concluding questions that 
speakers use to round off their paragraphs, affording a pause in which to 
adjust their spectacles and glance down at the paper long enough to gauge 
the tempo and intensity of the next section. 

He was totally unprepared for the accused to rise in the balcony and 
boom out from his barrel chest, — Do you want your answer now, sir ? 

Parker had no shame, of course, and would never play by the rules, and 
that big voice of his was the heavy reverberating kind that never failed 
to raise a hearty laugh when used to heckle or interrupt. 

Parker would have got the laugh on him anyway but the growling 
resonance came like a welcome thunder clap in a dry season and the 
merriment was loud and prolonged. Curtis, of course, ignored the man 
and waited, hot-faced, until the laughter died away, and then went on 
with his speech as if nothing had happened. 

The other daughter of Charles P. had married a man named Green- 
ough, a classmate of Parker's. Needless to say, after this incident, the um- 
bilical cord of Alma Mater was cut and Greenough would not throw as 
much as a nod to his schoolfellow. 

Such a family, of power possessed, had to be close-knit and come to- 
gether for conferences in times of stress. This time the meeting included 
George T. Curtis, a brother to Ben. He was also a Slave Commissioner 
and had been called in to explain the story going around that he had re- 
fused to issue the warrant to Colonel Suttle in the first place. 

— All right. All right, he said in expiation of his sin. — I did tell the 
man I couldn't handle it. But what's the difference? Ned's doing a good 
job with it. I'll write a letter to the papers and say I'm still available. I'll 


say that it is a lie that I had declined or was unwilling to act from any 
motive other than the press of business. I'll place myself by his side. But 
I never took a fee for a rendition and I never shall take one. 

— I don't think Ned is interested in the ten dollars, George, said Charles. 

They were sitting in the garden of the house on Summer Street, wait- 
ing for Judge Loring. They had been drinking Madeira amid the deadly 
and melancholy hush of six o'clock on a Sunday afternoon. The white and 
pink blossoms of the flowering trees were falling and were rolled slightly 
by the gentle breeze in the mud left by the rain. 

# # # # # 

Judge Loring had been delayed by a visit from Mr. Grimes. Grimes had 
been greatly worried by the double shock of Parker's sermon and the 
rumor going through the town that Washington was now taking an active 
hand in the affair. It was said on good authority that Jeff Davis was 
sending the Adjutant General of the Army to Boston to take charge of 
the rendition. Already, as a result of this, two subscribers had canceled 
their pledges, stating that if the man was put on trial, they would get 
no good out of their contribution. 

He was also afraid that Parker's attack would worry the Judge. But 
Loring hadn't even heard of it. He had spent a quiet day on a drive into 
the country after church and he was placid and relaxed as he invited Mr. 
Grimes into his study. 

— No, Mr. Grimes, he said, — I haven't changed my mind in the least. 
If the Colonel is satisfied to sell the man, I'm perfectly willing to do my 
part. I took on the whole thing as an unfortunate occurrence, and the 
less said the soonest mended. 

— I know Mr. Hallett is opposed to the sale, said Grimes timidly. 

— Mr. Hallett is an efficient and conscientious servant of the admin- 
istration, said the Judge, showing Mr. Grimes out. — But we don't always 
see eye to eye. I'm very happy in my present office of Probate Judge. Mr. 
Hallett has higher aspirations. 

— Then I'll see you at eight sharp in the morning. I'll have the money. 

— Yes, yes, Mr. Grimes, said the Judge, wearily nodding good-by and 
closing the door. 

Mr. Grimes started down the street again. He was bothered by the 
white lie he had just told. It wasn't really a lie. It was more of a mistake 
that had slipped out of him. He hadn't all the money. He was still three 
hundred dollars short. He turned up Beacon Street for some more begging. 


A little later the Judge made his entrance upon the family conference. 
He stood for a moment by the trunk of a willow tree before he came 
into the circle. He never walked right into a room but always stood in 
the frame of the door, waiting for a greeting. People remembered him 
as a rather dim figure, always half in the shade; never wholly in anything; 
always waiting to be beckoned or pushed. 

An old Chinese servant in native dress, a legacy from the old merchant 
prince, brought the Judge his Madeira. He sat in a wicker chair and lit 
a cigar. 

Charles P. took the turf, happy to get at the matter so long delayed. 
— First, I want to talk about the Music Hall, he said. — On the thirtieth 
of June, the annual meeting of the stockholders will take place. This 
time we must make careful preparations and not get caught short as we 
did last year. 

— This year, let's keep quiet about it, for heaven's sake. It was all over 
town last year. 

— I have the floor, Thomas. You'll have your turn later. Of course, as 
Chairman of the Directors, I could set another date, but I think if we 
work hard on this thing, we'll have ample time. 

— On what grounds are you basing your action, Charles? said Justice 

— Well, Judge, when Jonas Chickering and I, the original movers in 
this affair, promoted this edifice, it was for the purpose of advancing the 
musical and artistic culture of Boston. Its present use, I must say is . . . 

— Very good. You're right, said Justice Curtis. 

— - Now about the votes. As in most corporations of this kind, there 
are only a few members public-spirited enough to take part in the corpo- 
ration meeting and vote. Out of the one thousand and sixty-six shares 
issued for the Music Hall, I should say there are about five hundred 
active ones. Last year, when the family offered a motion similar to the 
one prepared for this meeting, we were defeated by a block of one hun- 
dred votes cast by a proxy. 

— How did they ever get permission to use those votes, Charles? said 

— Oh, someone wrote to Chandler in Europe and got permission to 
use them from his agent in Boston. This year, I am happy to say, they 
are in the possession of a nephew of President Pierce and I'm sure we 
will have little trouble in acquiring them for the purpose we have in view. 

— Hear, hear, said Justice Curtis. — I won't be able to attend but I'm 
glad to hear that my ten shares are to be put to such a worthy purpose. 


— What about your own, Ned? said Thomas. — That might be the 
one to turn the scales in our favor. 

— Oh, have it. Have it by all means. I don't think I'll be able to attend 
the meeting. By the way, what is this motion for? 

There was a long and hearty laugh at Ned's innocence. — Really, Ned 
said, — I have no idea what the motion is, although you have my vote, 
of course. 

— The motion is, said Thomas, — to throw the Twenty-Eighth Con- 
gregational Society out of the Music Hall. 

— But why? said Ned. — I thought they paid a very good rental to 
the corporation. Twenty-four hundred dollars a year I believe. That will 
be a hard deficit to make up. 

— It's well worth it. There's one debt I would put on the credit side. 
There was total agreement with this from all but Ned, who spoke up 

again with soft persistence. 

— Isn't that a rather crude move to make at this time? Everyone will 
ascribe it to a personal attack on Parker. I don't think we can afford 
that kind of talk. It will prolong the unrest that's so distressing at the 
moment. After all, what have we got against Parker? 

Thomas put down his delicate glass so hard that the stem broke and 
tinkled over the flagstones. Charles let the tide of anger rise in his chest 
and up to his face. 

— Why ... he called my brother a murderer. Isn't that enough ? 

— ■ Your brother? said Judge Loring, looking at Thomas. — Oh . . . 
me ? He called me a murderer ? 

— You seem to be the last to hear about it, Ned, said Charles. — He 
stood up in the pulpit of the Music Hall, the largest edifice in Boston, 
built by the efforts of the Curtis family, and directed by myself as Chair- 
man, and called the son of Minnie Curtis, my mother, a murderer. Over 
two thousand people, since this morning, have gone about the city re- 
peating it. 

Ned stood up in great pain and went to seek the shadow of the willow 
tree. He took it like a blow from a great loutish farmer's fist. For a mo- 
ment he was speechless. 

— It will be a good thing for Boston to be rid of him, said Thomas. 
Justice Curtis saw the matter in a more intellectual light. — Yes. It 

should mean the end of his influence entirely. He will never be given a 
church by the Unitarians. He has no affiliation with a political party. He 
stands alone except for that weird congregation of his. Once they are dis- 
persed, his influence will be null and void. 

— Perhaps he'll write for the papers more, said Greenough. 

— No, said Justice Curtis. — His influence in the papers depends on 
his influence before the public eye. If he has no church, he'll have no 
sermon. If he has no sermon, there will be nothing to print. This will 
discredit him. We've done the same thing with Garrison. He's very little 
in the public eye nowadays. At one time, he spoke a great deal in the 
churches and had a wide following. Since people have become aware of 
his atheism and the churches have shut their doors to him, he is only the 
disappointed leader of a small band of fanatics. 

Ned Loring came away from the tree. He was pale and his hands, 
trembled. Justice Curtis put a friendly hand on his arm. 

— I think he's the murderer, Loring said. — If anyone killed that man 
in the Courthouse, it was he. 

The others shook their heads in quick assent. — You're right, Judge, 
Greenough said. — O wise and upright Judge. 

— Pity he can't be taken up for it, said Charles P. — It isn't the only 
murder he's committed. 

Ned's head jerked up in shocked surprise. 

— He's a character assassin, Charles continued. — He kills men's char- 
acters. That's why we've got to get him out of the Music Hall. He is 
carrying on a reign of terror from that pulpit. He stands there like a 
Robespierre, denouncing and sending to the guillotine whole families of 
the best citizens of Boston. 

— Perhaps I shouldn't say this, said Justice Curtis. — I don't usually 
talk out of court, as it were, but there is a very good basis to have Parker 
indicted for this murder. If a person willfully obstructs any officer of the 
United States in executing a writ, he is guilty of a crime, and if the officer 
is killed by those resisting him, that is a case of murder. It is not even 
necessary to prove that the accused used or even threatened active violence. 
It is enough to prove an obstruction or an attempt at obstruction. 

— He wasn't there at the time, was he ? asked Thomas. 

— Not necessary, said the Justice. — If persons having influence over 
others use that influence to induce the commission of crime, while they 
themselves remain at a safe distance, that would be deemed a very im- 
perfect system of law that allows them to escape with impunity. That 
would be the basis of my charge to the jury in this case. And I have an 
idea I will be delivering such a charge before very long. 

Greenough, now doubly inflamed by the excitement and the Madeira, 
hauled his lanky form up off his chair and spread out his skinny arms in 
a gesture of wild joy. — Hurray! he shouted, waving his glass like a torch. 


— We'll fix him! He can't beat the Curtises. Charles P. will throw him 
out of his church. Benjamin R. will indict him for murder . . . and if 
that don't work, George T. will certify him a fugitive slave and send 
him down to Virginia. 

Charles P. laughed discreetly, almost choking himself, holding back 
so hard the tears came to his eyes. 

— For God's sake, don't repeat that, Greenough. He'll be saying it soon 
enough in the very same words. 

Ned Loring didn't laugh. He turned on his heel and walked into the 

— Ned's taking this harder than he should, said Charles P. — I hope 
he won't weaken and fail the family in this case. Of course, he'll have to 
carry through now with all the strength he can muster. Will you help 
him, Ben? 

— Yes. Yes, said Justice Curtis. — I've already jotted down a few notes 
to guide him in giving his decision. But gentlemen, I'd rather not discuss 
this matter any more on the Sabbath, so I will not read them to you. 

— Oh, come now, said Greenough. — We won't tell anyone, honor 
bright, we won't. You, more than anyone I know, owe little to the Sab- 
bath. One of your dearest friends told me the other day that your Bible 
was constantly open on your office desk. He said it was a strange book 
for a lawyer to be seen reading in his office. 

— Then I pity him, said the Justice. — For those ignorant of the prin- 
ciples of that book cannot be thorough in the duties of their profession. 

He looked at Greenough with the full cast of his judicial severity on 
his cold, handsome face. And that ended his lesson for that day. 




People whose characteristics are set in a firm and unchanging mold 
are exceptional and even the rude and ignorant pay deference to the 
clarity of their effect on the world. Mr. Grimes, with his habitual and 
honest meekness . . . saying This is I, there's nothing more there . . . 
and Parker with his belligerence, rich in nuisance value, were the only 
two people in Boston that could pass in and out of the Courthouse at will. 

Many others, some possessing considerable pomp and letters from the 
Marshal or Ben Hallett, were roughly denied admittance. Even, or rather, 
especially did the guards like to hinder the stifl-necked advance of Richard 
Dana on his way to the courtroom. There seems to be no other explana- 
tion of the fact that Parker and Grimes came and went at will and yet 
were the very ones who labored most assiduously to bring chaos and con- 
fusion to the guards themselves. 

Mr. Grimes took up a place beside the door of the Probate courtroom 
at fifteen minutes before eight o'clock on Monday morning, passing into 
the Courthouse without being challenged or molested and even rating a 
courteous nod or two from the Marines and truckmen. 

They nodded and spoke to Parker too, when he came. Not because he 
had softened their hearts or converted them in any way. In fact, they 
were put out over his brutal characterization of them the day before. But 
they knew him and he knew them. It seemed clear enough. 

One of the Marines said to a deputy: — What are you speaking to him 

— Well, said the guard, shrugging, — I know him. I see him here every 
day and he's around town a lot. Everybody knows him. Everybody speaks 
to him. 

Dana evoked a poor response perhaps because he felt that these men 
were beneath him. But Parker didn't feel that way. He measured men 
horizontally, not up and down. For or against, he judged them and spoke 
and talked to anyone who had a word for him. 


Mr. Grimes waited for Judge Loring for an hour and fifteen minutes 
with the pledges for the twelve hundred dollars still intaet. At nine o'clock, 
the feeling that something was wrong took hold of him and he went be- 
low to the Marshal's office., It was locked. 

With rising panic he half-walked, half-ran to the Revere House for 
Colonel Suttle. He wasn't there. He went over to Judge Loring's house 
on Tremont Street. The Judge had just left for the Courthouse. He ran 
back to the Courthouse and dragged himself up the stairs panting and 
throbbing, with a stitch in his side. He went again to the Marshal's office 
and tried the door. This time it was unlocked and he opened it and 
stepped in. 

They were all there. They stood looking at him as he tried to catch 
his breath. Judge Loring was in the doorway to the inner office. The 
Marshal was beside his desk. Colonel Suttle, Brent and Ben Hallett stood 
in the middle of the floor. 

— I came here at quarter to eight, Judge, like you said. You promised 
me you'd go through with it this morning. 

The Judge retreated into the inner office, out of sight. Mr. Grimes 
started to follow him. 

— Well, my colored friend, said Colonel Suttle, stepping in front of 
Mr. Grimes, — how long are you goin' to continue heapin' coals of fire 
on this man's head? We had a bargain to be made out Saturday night 
and it fell to the ground because of the time, and now it's over with. Why 
don't you let the man be? He's got trouble enough. 

— He told me again last night the sale would be completed this morn- 
ing. I have always taken him as a man of his word. 

— Well, you just start takin* my word, the word of a Virginian. I gave 
the word of a gentleman fer Saturday night. That word has gone by 
now. I have the word from my friends in Washington and various South- 
ern gentlemen now here to take the man back and I intend to keep that 
word and that's the honor you'll have to concern yourself with, my 
colored friend. After we bring him back, then you can have him. 

— But Saturday night's failure was not through me. I had the money 
here before midnight and the papers were ready. . . . He held it up. 
Grimes pointed at Ben. — He blocked it. It wasn't my fault. 

Ben smiled sarcastically. — No, it wasn't your fault. But don't excite 
yourself, Mr. Grimes. When Burns is tried and brought back to Virginia 
and the law executed, you can buy him and I will pay one hundred dol- 
lars toward his purchase. 

— But I bought him. The man is mine. Suttle just has to take the money 


in his hand. Judge! he called. — Judge, isn't he mine, isn't he bought? 

He started to the inner office but Ben took him by the arm and turned 
him around. He led him to a certain place on the carpet. He held his arm 
so tightly that Mr. Grimes could not tear away. 

Ben pointed down to the spot on the floor. — The laws of the land 
cannot be trampled upon. That blood must be atoned for. 

He released Mr. Grimes's arm. Baffled and despondent, Mr. Grimes 
went out of the Courthouse. He wondered who could ever atone for Ben 
Hallett's blood, full of such devious cruelty. 

In the morning, before the Court opened, the Marshal and Hallett had 
worked out a very efficient system of guarding the courtroom. All the 
doors were closed but the center one between the great granite columns. 
Marines stood with fixed bayonets at distances of ten feet in squads of 
six, as many as the passageway would allow. With them was a man from 
the Custom House, a loyal Democrat who could spot a Free-soiler, an 
Abolitionist or a Conscience Whig at ten paces. They gave the signal for 
the dropping and pointing of the bayonets against usurpers. 

These fingermen were officially part of the posse comitatus at the cus- 
tomary three dollars. Ben, being the superb politician that he was, had 
seen to it that they were chosen from the doubtful wards in Boston and 
there were a few from other danger points, Plymouth, Salem and Lynn. 
After Friday, two men from Worcester were added. 

A few overidealistic spectators were able to get by the guards at the 
beginning of the gantlet of the courtroom, but they were stopped some- 
times just before the door itself. 

Inside, an atmosphere of greater informality reigned. There were only 
half a dozen armed soldiers there and the decorum of the court was main- 
tained by Louis Varelli's men, sitting in easy, relaxed postures, chatting 
and bickering, hoisting a friendly bottle now and then and having a quiet 
doze as exhaustion from their labors overtook them. Their dirty blue 
shirts or greasy and ragged broadcloth coats covered their guns and knives, 
and their faces, rich with the chiaroscuro of dark-hued stubble and seamed 
with lines of deep and profound experience, mitigated the pipe-clay pallor 
of the military and the effete white linen and bay-rum suavity of the 
legal hirelings within the bar. 

The examination of Burns began shortly after ten o'clock. There was 
the usual delay caused by the baiting of Richard Dana by the guards. 
The courtroom was packed with Southerners. Northern men with South- 


ern principles, although plentiful, did not seek public places in times like 
these. It was far better to show their loyalty at a Union-saving meeting, 
in Faneuil Hall. 

Burns had been brought in before the court was opened but Parker went 
down for a word with him before he took his seat, and he saw that irons 
had been put back on the man's legs. Coming back to his seat he walked 
between Counsels Thomas and Kerr and noted that they were carrying 
pistols in their belts. These observations were given to Charles Ellis and 
he rose to open the defense, fighting mad. 

— Sir, for the first time since I embraced the law as my profession, I 
feel ashamed to be in a courtroom. I am ashamed because I cannot regard 
these proceedings as fit and right. 

He forestalled a remark from the bench by holding up a placating 
hand. — Neither the prisoner nor I have anything to complain about in 
regard to your Honor's indulgence. But may I ask your Honor if he has 
ever been forced to plead a case while the opposing counsel bore arms ? 

All eyes in the courtroom turned on Thomas and Kerr. They sat low 
in their chairs, their arms wrapped like swathes around themselves. After 
milking this effect for a goodly moment, Ellis turned to the prisoner. 

— And is it fit, your Honor, that a counsel has to defend a client with 
shackles on his ankles? 

At a signal from Watson, Butman snaked the irons off with amazing 
dexterity. — He has not them on, said Butman, probably adding now, 
under his breath, to square with the truth. 

Ellis continued, having secured two good hits : — That is all right then, 
now, but he was also shackled on the first day. We are free citizens of 
Massachusetts and members of the bar and we do not have to be reminded 
in a courtroom, by force, of the claims of the Constitution and the laws. 

He could see Ben Hallett shifting his big rump uneasily in his chair 
and saw Ben's ears start to tint red with anger. Ellis pointed his next 
remark in Ben's direction. 

— This room has been packed with armed men and it is not fit that an 
examination should proceed. We protest against conducting this case with 
these avenues and apartments filled with military, making it difficult for 
any friends of the prisoner to obtain access. 

Ben could not resist turning around to see whether Ellis was directing 
remarks in his direction. He caught Ellis's eye and held it, wanting to 
turn away but afraid people would think he was being stared down. 

— It is but fit that everyone present should bear the semblance of hu- 
manity on his countenance and the conduct of a man in his person. The 


object seems to be, for some reason, that the countenances here, instead 
of reflecting the benignity that ought to be shed from a tribunal of justice, 
only stare about with hate. 

He raised a good laugh on this, even from the Southerners, and Ben 
had to turn away in abject defeat. Ellis now spoke to the Judge. 

— Your Honor said on Saturday that you knew nothing prejudicial to 
the prisoner's freedom and I had hoped that these proceedings would be 
carried out on that supposition unless properly, calmly and legally shown. 

— ■ The examination shall proceed, said the Judge. — I will give this 
consideration if necessary, hereafter. 

Ben rose from his chair, with a great bounce, pushing it back so roughly 
with his fat thighs that Watson Freeman had to steady it to keep it from 
falling over with a great clatter. Judge Loring, looking on this movement 
with covert dismay, bent his head to study some papers on his desk with 
phenomenal concentration. Ben stood there waiting to be recognized. The 
Judge did not look up. He hoped for a moment that Ben would turn and 
leave, using his departure as a gesture of injury and disgust. But Ben 
stayed and began to speak without recognizance. 

— Your Honor, I wish to address the court on the remarks made by 
the counsel for the defense. 

— Mr. Hallett, said the Judge, — there is no necessity for any such re- 
marks. Such remarks would have no bearing on the examination now be- 
ing held. 

— His remarks had no reference to the examination either! shouted 
Ben. — But he is implicating and insulting the United States Marshal and 
the United States officers for their measures taken to preserve order in and 
around this court. I am obliged, as the law officer of the United States 
and as counsel for the Marshal, at whose request I am present, to reply to 
this unwarranted attack. 

— That is unnecessary, said the Judge. — I have decided that the ex- 
amination is to proceed and there is no motion before this court. The 
Judge nodded sharply to Ellis, who was still standing with a broad smile 
on his face, to proceed. 

— I am aware of that, said Ben, ignoring the Judge's signal. — But the 
United States Marshal has been openly charged here with unlawfully 
packing this courtroom and stopping the passageway with armed men and 
such language must be replied to. 

— Mr. Hallett, said the Judge, with all the force he could summon, — 
these remarks are irrelevant and entirely out of order. I think I am the 
sole authority on what language should be used here and I . . . 


— The United States soldiers, continued Ben, riding down the Judge, 

— are here in aid of the Marshal to enable him to preserve order and 
execute the laws and they are summoned here as a part of the posse 
comitatus. This proceeding has been approved by the President of the 
United States. 

Judge Loring looked silently down at his desk and the rest of the 
courtroom kept silence with him. Only the faces of Parker and Ellis 
wore a smile. The rest sat in awkward shame, their sympathy with the 
Judge. Richard Dana looked the saddest of the lot and rested his brow 
on his hand, unable to look at either of the contestants. 

Ben changed his tone and began to plead with outraged righteousness: 

— That proceeding was rendered necessary by the conduct of the men 
who got up and inflamed the meeting at Faneuil Hall, some of whom 
I see here . . . 

Ben turned and faced Parker and waved a heavy arm in his direction. 

— Here within the bar, and who are claimed by the counsel as his 
friends. The men who committed murder that night came directly from 
the incitement to riot and bloodshed which had maddened them in that 
hall. I myself take the responsibility for these measures of protection. 

He paused for breath, his face like a red sun at the edge of the land. 

Ellis, who had remained standing, said softly and evenly: — Your 
Honor, I was not aware that this was the trial of Mr. Parker and the 
speakers at the meeting. I ask you to cite the United States Attorney for 
contempt and remove him from the court. 

Judge Loring did not look up but said quietly, — The language of the 
District Attorney is a matter in which I alone am interested at the 
moment. Counsel need not concern himself with the conduct of this court. 

— Counsel has every right to do so, your Honor, said Ellis. — This is 
all part and parcel of these circumstances and I ask that your Honor give 
us a delay until these circumstances are removed. 

— The trial will proceed, said the Judge. 

Ben sat down triumphantly. But there were no answering nods or back- 
slaps of approval from his coterie. Senior Counsel Thomas whispered to 
Junior Kerr that if Ben Hallett didn't stay the hell out of the courtroom 
from now on, he'd give up the damned case. 

Mr. Ellis then asked, in the absence of any record, whether the Com- 
missioner had any jurisdiction in this case. 

The Judge, swallowing this impertinence along with the others, replied 
that he was qualified and ruled that the matter was not debatable. 

Mr. Ellis sat down. 

Mr. Kerr asked the Judge if it were necessary to go over the evidence 
already presented. 

The Judge replied that he did not deem it necessary. 

This brought Dana to his feet. — The previous examination was made 
when the prisoner had no counsel. This examination should proceed as 
though the arrest had just been made. I have no notes of previous testi- 
mony given. 

The Judge veered a bit in Dana's direction and decided that the com- 
plaint should be read and the proceedings commenced anew. 

The complaint was read by Mr. Kerr, and William Brent was called to 
the witness stand again. 

Brent was a mean-looking man but his testimony was precise in spite of 
his drawl. He said, under prompting by Kerr, that he was an old friend 
of Colonel Suttle, knew Anthony Burns and that the black man, the 
prisoner at the bar, was he. 

Dana and Ellis listened carefully as Brent began that part of his testi- 
mony upon which they had based the crux of their argument for the 
defense. The witness tossed of? his next remark carelessly, unaware of 
their scrutiny. 

— I saw Burns last on the Sunday previous to his absence. The date 
was the twentieth of March. He was missing on the twenty-fourth. I don't 
know why he left. Only from what he said. 

Mr. Thomas did not know what ripples were widening in the minds 
of his opponents from this remark, dropped so casually. He was more 
intent on the insistence that the statement of the prisoner given in his 
interview with the Colonel be put into the record. 

— Your Honor, objected Ellis, — the sixth section of the law provides 
that the testimony of the alleged prisoner shall not be taken. 

— Testimony and admission are two different things, said Thomas 
smugly. — Naturally he cannot give testimony. He is the defendant in 
the suit. 

Dana tried to save the point. — It is the height of cruelty to the prisoner 
to take advantage of the only power he has under this law, that of speech, 
to his detriment, while the claimant has not only his own rights, but, in 
these alleged confessions, a portion of the prisoner's. 

The Judge pondered the question a moment or two. — I think that 
testimony in the law must be regarded as referring to evidence given by 
a witness and not to confessions or admissions. 

At this, Parker began to heave around in his chair, clearing his throat 
and coughing violently. Dana and Ellis bent their heads toward him. 


The Judge weakened under these wild signals of a storm. — Neverthe- 
less, he added, — I am unwilling to prejudice the liberty of the prisoner 
and the counsel may pass the question for the present. 

But Mr. Kerr wanted to know if questions on the testimony given by 
the prisoner might be asked and put down for future use if necessary, and 
the Judge agreed to that. 

So Brent continued. Ellis wanted to object, but Dana said that they 
might as well hear everything that the opposition had to offer and take 
a chance on picking it to pieces later. 

— I guess he didn't intend to run away, Brent testified. — That's what 
he said. He said he was at work on a vessel and he was tired and fell 
asleep and the vessel sailed away with him on board. 

— There's a point there, Dana murmured. — They can't prove escape 
by that. They themselves say it was involuntary. 

— When we went into the room, Brent said, — the first word from 
Burns was, How do you do, Mr. Charles? . . . The next thing was, Did 
I ever whip you, Anthony ? . . . The answer was No. . . . The next ques- 
tion was, Did I ever hire you where you didn't want to go ? ... No, was 
the reply. . . . The Colonel said, Did you ever ask me for money that was 
not given you? . . . The answer was No. Then the Colonel asked him, 
Didn't I take the bed from my own house when you were sick and let you 
use it? ... And the answer was Yes. 

Parker and Phillips looked up at Tony. He was moving his head almost 
imperceptibly from left to right in the gesture for No. 

— Why doesn't he stand up and shout that the whole business is a lie? 
growled Parker. 

— Because he can see the outcome as plainly as you and me, said Phil- 
lips. — He doesn't consider it's worth a whipping. 

— He then recognized me, said Mr. Brent, — and he said, How do you 
do, Master William ? . . . I asked him if he was ready to go back and he 
said that he was. His mother is there with Colonel Suttle, and his brother 
and sister are also slaves of the Colonel's and live nearby. 

— I move, your Honor, said Ellis, — that this entire testimony be 
stricken out. Witness is referring to persons as slaves. He has no legal 
evidence that they are. 

— The witness must not refer to individuals as slaves, said the Judge. 

— I don't know why not! They're bought and paid for or inherited by 
the Colonel and, according to the laws of where I come from, they're 
known as slaves. 

Mr. Brent was beginning to get a little angry. Counsel Thomas got to 


his feet apprehensively, shaking his head at Brent. Brent looked at him 
and lapsed into a sullen silence. 

— When did you hire Mr. Burns? asked Thomas with as much bland- 
ness as he could muster. 

— When I hired Burns, I gave my bond to Colonel Suttle, who claimed 
to own him, said Brent sarcastically, underlining the claimed. — The Colo- 
nel, being a resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia, stated that Burns 
was his slave. I don't know what proof he had at hand. In the passes he 
gave out to let Burns go to Virginia, he wrote down he was his boy. 

— Maybe he was his boy, said Mr. Ellis, and the claimant's counsel 
jumped angrily to their feet and called on the Judge to strike down the 
inference and the inferrer. 

The Judge settled it by declaring the court recessed for lunch. 

As the Judge rose and redistributed his robes about him, a great cheer 
came from the crowd outside the Courthouse. The Judge moved with re- 
luctant dignity into his chambers as the others rushed to the window to 
see what had caused the outburst. 

It was the Worcester Freedom Club, come to Boston to face the Court 
and the United States Marines after their own fashion. They were armed 
with a gigantic banner, stretched on two poles and bearing these fighting 

The Worcester Freedom Club 

Warm Hearts and Fearless Souls 

True to the Union and Constitution! 

As the banner passed by the window, the observers could see on its 
reverse : 

Freedom! National Liberty — Equality — Fraternity! 

And a splotchy picture of the Goddess of Liberty and underneath: 

Slavery Sectional 
Freedom National 

The Freedom Club had rejected, at a mass meeting held a half-hour 
before, a proposal to back up the service of a writ of replevin by present- 
ing their bare breasts to the guards and pressing through to the Marshal's 
office. This was the motion of Stephen Symonds Foster, an anti-slavery lec- 
turer and Nonresistant, and author of a famous book about the American 
churches, titled The Brotherhood of Thieves. Mr. Foster had offered to 


lead the action and had unbuttoned his shirt and seemed calm and con- 
fident about the success of his plan. 

The meeting had suspended judgment for a brief pause, seeing the bayo- 
net pierce the pale, sunken chest, crunching the bones as it turned side- 
ways in the agitated hands of the defender; hearing the awful silence as 
the blood gushed out and the tumult as the guards turned on their com- 
rade, the slayer, with horror, and the exultation of Foster as he lay dying. 

Finally a stout merchant rose and said, — I move that we parade around 
the Courthouse every hour with our banners and placards to show the 
prisoner that we are with him in spirit and strike a blow for liberty at the 
same time. 

With relief, this motion was seconded and passed with a shout and they 
fairly ran from the meeting room in Tremont Temple to the sun outside. 

Their first turn around the Courthouse, just as the trial recessed, was 
successful. But the second time the chanting, shouting column swung past 
the front door of the Courthouse, Chief Taylor and four officers stopped 
the head of it, took away their beautiful banner and all their placards and 
deposited them in the Center Watchhouse. This time they were all non- 
resistants in fact and offered up their standard without a struggle and 
dispersed to small uncomfortable groups, silent and ashamed. 

The shame was compounded a few minutes later when a parade of 
small boys, twenty in number, marched into the square. The oldest was 
fourteen, and in the rear toddled their small-fry brothers of four and 
five. They wore paper hats in the Napoleonic style and told everyone that 
they were going to rescue the prisoner. The crowd cheered them and 
looked slyly over at Chief Taylor. The Chief wisely turned tail on them 
and went back into the Courthouse. Some of the Worcester men, in savage 
self-abasement, stepped into this procession. 

The abortive demonstration may have had some effect, because Smith 
the Caterer's colored waiters went on strike shortly afterwards and would 
not serve the Marshal's guard according to their contract. 

When the Court reassembled, the guards were in an ugly mood and 
looked no longer about with their cheery, bashful bestiality but mumbled 
to one another about the failure of the officials to provide them with their 

Richard Dana was late again. He had tried to get into the law library 
and had been barred. His sleeve had been torn by a careless bayonet and 
when he got to the courtroom he found his seat occupied by a large pow- 


erful man with a Panama hat on his head, holding a dead cigar between 
his lips. As Dana stood by the chair, this man leaned back and looked at 
him and rocked forward and spat between his legs. Dana was too enraged 
to speak to him but when the Judge came in and they all stood up, he 
said, — Mr. Commissioner. For the third time since this examination has 
begun, I have had my way to this courtroom obstructed by the bayonets 
of the guard. My relation to the prisoner is well known by now and yet I 
have not been able to see him or even consult the law library. And now, 
the crowning insult, I find my chair occupied by this lazy, lolling hound. 
I suggest you instruct the Marshal on proper trial procedure. 

— I have no authority to direct the actions of the Marshal, said His 
Honor. The Marshal smiled. 

Louis Varelli came to Dana's rescue. — Hey, Sullivan, he said. — Louis 
Varelli wants you should vamos. 

Sullivan rose slowly and as he turned to pass Dana, he hit him a glanc- 
ing blow with his shoulder which looked unintentional but which 
knocked the wind out of him for a moment. 

Varelli drew a very clean silk handkerchief from his breast pocket and 
dusted the chair lightly, to the huge amusement of his men. He then ges- 
tured for Dana to sit and walked back to his bench. 

Dana seethed at this claptrap, but he had to sit, and the flesh of his 
buttocks shrank and crawled as they seemed to feel the animal sweat 
ringing the chair, soaking up into them. 

Outside the court came a great commotion; the sound of a struggle and 
a sharp cry of, Murder . . . murder! People crowded to the door for a 
moment and then came back with broad smiles on their faces. Albert 
Browne, the father of the boy held for murder, had just been tripped up 
by the last group of guards, after being spotted as a radical member of the 
Governor's Council from Salem, and had been carried out feet first 
by four of them. His cries continued all the way down the stairs and 
could be heard until the great doors at the entrance were slammed on 

Ellis got to his feet and called for the cross-examination of William 
Rrent. He tore into him with fury, positive that he would find something 
degrading with which to hold him up to scorn. 

But Brent, looking at Burns instead of him during the questioning, 
showed great control. Yes, he owned slaves, bought them and inherited 
them. He was a wholesale grocery and commission agent. He had made 
arrangements to come to Boston with the Colonel out of friendship. 
No . . . certainly he had not expected the Colonel to pay his expenses or 


remunerate him. He had never been on a similar expedition before. He 
had seen him frequently and had taken trips to Washington with him as a 
friend. They lodged together at the Revere House. His meeting with 
Burns had been in the jury room of the Courthouse. Burns had said cer- 
tain things already testified to . . . that Tuesday, in Richmond, after 
Burns had left, he had written to the Colonel of the fact. 

Ellis sat down in great disappointment at the man's coolness and con- 

All Dana could get out of him was that Burns had a mother, a brother 
and a sister . . . that the words he had given as the admissions of Burns 
were not exactly as they were given but as nearly as he could recollect. 

Brent was not the beast they had hoped. He was a grocer and obviously 
a shrewd one and a man in bondage was a commodity to be handled with 
cool judgment. 

The claimant's counsel called Mr. Caleb Page to the stand and he was 
sworn. His testimony was also clear and cool. He was a teamster, residing 
in Somerville. He was with Burns in the jury room when the conversation 
before-mentioned took place. He did not hear the first of it but remem- 
bered the remark about the twelve-and-a-half cents a year. The Colonel 
had asked him if he had come in Captain Snow's vessel. Burns said, 
No. . . . He asked him whose vessel he came in, but Burns wouldn't 

Ellis cross-examined. He was a teamster in Milk Street. He worked? 
Yes, he worked for the Custom House, but he owned his own team. No, 
he was not an officer. Asa Butman hired him . . . said you're just the man 
I want. 

— I came to the Courthouse with the prisoner; stayed three quarters of 
an hour. I walked behind him when he was taken. I am still employed by 
the Marshal. No, I have no written agreement, only his word of engage- 
ment. I am employed as . . . 

Before he could finish, Dana said, — How came Butman to say you are 
just the man? 

This caused a raucous laugh among the guards and Page got very red 
in the face. 

Junior Kerr came to his rescue saying, — You don't have to answer that. 

This being the best they could do, Dana and Ellis sat and the witness 
was excused. 

Counsel Kerr, in a fake, casual, offhand manner of finality, got up from 
his chair, mopped his brow, whipping his handkerchief from his back 
pocket carefully and quickly, so as not to let his coat fall apart and reveal 

I 94 

the pistol in his belt. He gathered up the documents before him and laid 
them on the judge's bench. 

— I am putting the record of the Court of Virginia into the case at this 
time, your Honor, he said. 

The Judge patted them slightly with his white hand, as a man playing 
cards with trusted friends taps the pack before a deal instead of cutting. 

Ellis rose quickly and went to the bench, reaching out for the docu- 

— It will go into the case subject to objection from the prisoner's coun- 
sel, the Judge said quickly. 

Ellis pushed the papers roughly about on the bench and said he would 
have several objections against the record that he would like to present. 
He picked up a thick calf-bound book containing the laws of the State 
of Virginia, looked at the title, and then threw it down with contempt and 
walked back to his seat, wiping his hands as though they were touched 
with filth. 

Counsel Thomas took these histrionics calmly, but Junior Kerr was ired. 
— The record, your Honor, said Kerr stoutly, — is decisive of two points. 
First, that Anthony Burns owes service and labor; and second, that he has 
escaped. Please may your Honor examine the marks on the prisoner in 
the manner most agreeable to yourself, to see if they are at variance with 
those described in the document to prove the identity. 

Thomas got up and cited the laws of Virginia relative to the power of 
its courts and of the court whose record had been abused. — Your Honor 
has everything before you to close the case, he said. 

Judge Loring picked up the book. It was easier to look at and decide 
from than the man was. He was putting off looking at the man for a bit. 

Richard Dana said, — A book here is presented to show that the man 
owes service and labor in Virginia. A book is not evidence. 

— Well, said Thomas, acidly, — counsel should know that the proper 
way to prove the law of another state is by books. This was decided by 
our Supreme Court in Pickering. 

The Judge put down the book carefully. There was an awkward silence. 
Mr. Ellis said despondently, — Saving exceptions, we are willing to close 
the case. 

Mr. Thomas said with a little triumph in his voice, — If the book is not 
sufficient, I wish to prove the fact in another way. 

— The book is in, said the Judge, — to go for what it will. Will the 
prisoner stand? 

Anthony stood. He put his head back a little and crossed his hands in 

T 95 

front of him. He was quiet and unresistant in mind as well as body. There 
were beads of sweat on his dark skin and his eyeballs stuck out like huge 

The Judge looked down at the papers. They lay before him like sheets 
of steel . . . hard facts, stones and shards to hurl against this unresisting 
flesh. He began checking the description like an invoice, in a low murmur. 
— A man of dark complexion, about six feet high with a scar on one of 
his cheeks and also a scar on the back of his right hand and about twenty- 
three or -four years of age. 

Anthony, still gripped by fear and hopelessness, put out his right hand 
as a well-trained dog does his paw. Parker, who had been quiet to this 
point, could not hold back a loud exhalation of impatience at the docility 
of the man, offering up the evidence for his own conviction. 

But the Judge misunderstood it as a spasm of sympathy and fixed his 
eyes on the hand. It hung out of the cuff like a misshapen root, twisted 
and gnarled, a pulsing memory of pain. There was the red band of meat 
without skin, the chlorophyll of encompassing human life . . . And the 
bone humping up behind. It was so intolerably primary and naked that 
when the Judge turned his eyes away, everything else seemed artificial. 
The careful coifTures of the lawyers were like wigs, their pink-barbered 
faces like paper, and the clothes and dirty skins of the guards like trash 
and offal. 

All but the reality of Parker's head hanging there in the center of the 
courtroom ... all but the tenderness and sleekness of the bald skull 
and the sloping forehead and then, underneath, the terrible eyes . . . 
big and luminous, like pools of phosphorus. He could feel them weighing 
him and absorbing him and all the facts and fancies of the morning. He 
knew that he was lost deep behind the green and yellow flecks and that 
everything he had said and done thus far was swirling in their deeps, to 
be spewed out in time to come in bitter stinging anger and scorn. 

— If the prisoner's counsel would like further delay to prepare excep- 
tions, it will be granted, said the Judge. 

Ellis and Dana exchanged looks of pleased surprise and then nodded 
their heads for Yes. The Judge struck his gavel and said, — At ten, to- 
morrow . . . and walked from the courtroom before the astonished friends 
and hirelings of the Colonel could catch their breath. 

The Negroes considered Wendell Phillips the best of all their friends 
. . They went to Theodore Parker when they were in trouble but Phil- 


lips exacted the greater tribute. They went to him when they thought he 
was in trouble. 

And he had a look of deep despair on his coin-head features. He had 
made a great faux pas at the Friday meeting. And though he was offi- 
cially one of Burns's attorneys and was considered by some people the 
greatest public speaker in the country, he hesitated about thrusting himself 
too actively into the case lest it be the kiss of death to the increasing sen- 
timent among the Boston conservatives for the man's release. 

He was unforgettably typed as a radical and a renegade to his class, and 
his calm, polished way of pressing unpopular issues without the saving 
grace of indignation made all his acts of unfaith a crime in cold blood. 
Thus he was filled with the strain of holding back his considerable pow- 
ers and taking a back seat in the courtroom. It was wearing badly on him. 

The genial custodian of the Courthouse, a wiseacre employed by the 
city, stopped him on his way out after the session and said, — Ain't you 
fellows got no witnesses to put up, Mr. Phillips? 

— Not that I know of, said Phillips sadly. — We've been trying to get 
someone to speak in Burns's favor but we can't get any clues out of the 
prisoner. He won't tell us a word of where he was before he went to work 
for Coffin Pitts. Perhaps it's for the best. We'd have to construct some kind 
of a distorted story out of it. Mr. Dana seems to be content with pressing 
the moral issues. 

— Moral issues be damned. Git the man an alibi. The custodian looked 
up and saw Ben Hallett coming down the corridor and slowing up a bit 
to do some eavesdropping. He beckoned for Phillips to bend nearer and 
said behind a sheltering hand, — See the little darky over there? He's 
been askin' for you all afternoon. 

Phillips saw a small man standing shyly by one of the columns just out 
of reach of a huge Marine. He thanked the custodian and went to the 
man with a warm smile and his hand outstretched. 

The custodian turned to Ben Hallett with an impudent smile. Ben stood 
silently for a moment, caressing his chin, anxious to pry into the text of the 
late conversation. 

— Well, Mr. Hallett, the custodian said. — How's the world treating 
you these days? 

Ben shook his head sadly and sighed. — Not very well, I'm afraid. The 
path of duty is a rough one, George. Since this thing started, they've been 
calling me every name in the calendar. On my way down the hall, some 
sniveling parson from up country called me a Judas. . . . However, I don't 


— You don't care, cackled George. — But what does Judas say? 

Ben gave him an icy, injured look and moved majestically on. He heard 
the man's happy cackle, repeating all the way down the steps: 

— You don't care, but what does Judas say? I don't think it will set so 
well with him. 

He walked slowly from the Courthouse to the office of the telegraph 
company. People looked away from him as he passed. He had a habit of 
nodding and smiling at everyone who was well dressed and respectable- 
looking, for political purposes, but now his greetings were unreturned. He 
was alarmed over this. It seemed as if all the passers-by had a familiar 
look to them and were cutting him out of malice and disgust. He had 
forgotten that this was Anniversary Week and that there were hundreds 
of strangers in town, and that he and the Marshal had everyone active in 
the Party, and looking for favors, on the payroll and on guard at the 

Nick Queeny was at the telegraph office when Ben arrived. He had 
been stationed there to pick up any communication that might come 
through from the capital. He was really enjoying his life as a govern- 
ment employee. For the first time in his life, he was earning his bread 
with a dry brow. He was determined never to go back to the factory. But 
when Ben came in, he looked up at him with a feeling of guilt. He was 
writing again. 

Ben took the paper away from him and said wearily, — Not another 
poem, Queeny ? Do you have to rape the muse every time I turn my back ? 

— It's just a letter, sir, said Queeny. — I thought I'd write a nice letter 
to the papers while I was hanging around. 

Ben couldn't make much out of it. There was a considerable amount of 
scratching out and revision. Ben sat heavily in one of the chairs and closed 
his eyes. — Read it to me, he said. — I've had a wretched day in court. 

Queeny 's Adam's apple bobbed a few times and then he began. 

— Since the passing of the law against fugitive slaves . . . 

— Since the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law, corrected Ben. 
Queeny continued, — It has been broken by Yankees only . . . 

— It has been openly and violently resisted and violated in this city 
and elsewhere by the descendants of the Puritans only, edited Ben. 

— But in no instance have the Irish . . . 

— Have the Irish adopted citizens co-operated with them, said Ben. 
Queeny scribbled the corrections down. He continued in a faltering tone: 

— The Irish too\ an oath . . . 

— Revise that, said Ben. — The citizens of Boston, of Irish birth, have 


ta\en a solemn oath to sustain the Constitution of this glorious Union. 

— And they have never broken it, said Queeny. 

— Spread it out a little, said Ben. — The more space it takes up in the 
papers, the better. Like this. . . . And to their honor, let it be spoken, 
they never have and never will be found to act inconsistently with the 
proper observance of that solemn observation. 

Queeny wrote down as much of that as he could. He had to admire 
Ben's easy flow of phrases. — I wish I could write like you, Mr. Hallett. 

— You'll learn, Queeny, said Ben. — I'll make a politician out of you 
or I'll kill you. Or you'll kill me. You're coming along. You had the 
right idea there. It's a sad fact that some of our adopted citizens care more 
for law and order and the status quo than our native sons, who seem de- 
termined to bite the hand that feeds them. 

Queeny looked at the ending of his letter. He wanted to put something 
all his own in there. Something poetical. — Couldn't we put something in 
out of mythology . . . like Romulus and Remus turning against the 
wolf . . . 

— Talent dies hard, doesn't it, Queeny? But we couldn't say bit the tit, 
now could we? 

Queeny had an idea Ben was pulling his leg. But before he could work 
up any real resentment, the telegraph began to chatter and the operator 
looked over at Ben. — It's for you, he said. 

Ben moved over close to the counter as the man took down the message. 
— Read it, Ben said. 

— It's from Washington, said the man. — Confidential. 

— Read it. It's all right. 

To Honorable B. F. Hallett, Boston, Mass. What is the state 
of the case of burns ? sldney webster, private secretary to the 

— Wonderful! Glorious! said Ben. — At last they realize what we're 
going through here. Give me a piece of paper, quick! 

He tore the sheet with the unfinished letter out of Nick's hand and be- 
gan to write a reply. 

The case is progressing and not likely to close until Thursday. 
Then armed resistance is indicated. But two city companies on 
duty. The Marshal has all the armed posse he can muster. More 
will be needed to execute the extradition if ordered. 


Ben paused here a moment in deep thought, weighing the question 
which was to be the crux of communication. Finally, he reached a decision 
and put it down in vigorously simple terms. 

Can the necessary expenses of the City Militia be paid if called 


He signed it with a flourish and gave it to the operator. — Put that right 
on the wire. Mr. Queeny, you will remain here until a reply comes 
through. I'll have some supper sent in for you. Stay all night if necessary. 

He turned again at the door and said to the operator, — For God's sake, 
don't send any of that hogwash scribbled on the top of the page! 




Charles mayo ellis was not cast in the mold of the great lawyers. He 
was neither deliberate nor confident enough to build a series of notes 
slowly and patiently until they rang out all at once like a great chord of 
truth in the ears of the judge and jury. But his occasional incoherence 
gave his delivery a driving and unusual verbal tempo and he was a good 
man to open a case and to cross-examine. He was a mild man outside but 
in court he spoke with a controlled anger. In appearance he resembled a 
sheep dog. His thick curly hair began oddly far back on his forehead and 
cascaded down the back of his neck. Unruly wings of it fell and covered 
his ears. He had a long flat nose, spatulate at the end, and a long sharp 
chin, projected beyond it. He was extremely round-shouldered and when 
he was on his feet he bustled about, always in motion, snapping at the 
heels of the opposition and gently nudging his own charges into line with 
the strongest defense. 

He began his day in court with a bark. — Mr. Commissioner, we need 
time. Most of the brief amount granted only a day or two to decide more 
than a man's life; when, if it involved only his coat, the wheels of justice 
could not be turned in a month. . . . This case involves novel questions of 
law but the Courthouse library has been locked up. Access to the Court- 
house has been made difficult by the military force. The common avenues 
are entirely barred and impassable. The labor and fatigue of a hurried 
preparation have thus been multiplied. Precious as every instant is to one 
needing it to defend another's liberty, I have lost most of the few minutes 
of time allotted to consulting my client by being forbidden to ascend the 
stairway by soldiers with their bayonets pointed at my breast. Still, sir, we 
must go on. 

— We shall offer evidence to contradict that produced by the claimant, 
evidence upon the facts in issue. 


— At the same time we claim that there is no evidence here now that 
will justify the signing of a warrant of slavery. 

— We stand on the presumption, of which you, sir, did well to remind 
counsel, of freedom and innocence. 

Judge Loring settled back. Counsel Thomas shaped his body in the chair 
for a doze. Such talk of presumptions and freedom and innocence were 
signs of weakness and a presumption didn't amount to a hill of beans 
against an affidavit and an admission from the defendant. But Mr. Kerr 
caught a disturbing note of optimism in Ellis's voice. The Judge had sat 
back too soon. Ellis began to shake a finger at him. 

— You sit there as both judge and jury, betwixt that man and slavery. 
Without a commission, without any accountability, without any right of 
challenge, you sit to render judgment. If against him, there is no tribunal 
that can review it or reverse it. You must proceed without delay, without 
any charge, on proofs defined only as such as may satisfy your mind. You 
may adjudge, and your judgment will be final forever. 

He dropped the finger but the forever still stuck in the Judge's face. 
Counsel Thomas's doze was shattered forever and the guards gaped at 
the Judge as though a sentence of life and hereafter had been imposed 
upon him. 

— The question here, said Ellis in a quieter tone, — is your own 
sense of reason and justice. The mind that is to decide this matter will 
not fail to weigh all these questions, the greater because of the dangers 
of its result, and require the claimant to prove his case beyond a possible 

Thomas and Kerr began conferring anxiously. They were disturbed by 
the bold optimism in Ellis's face. Thomas pushed his chair back and fid- 
dled with some papers. He seemed about to rise. Ellis struck at him. 

— The claimant's lawyers have no case. They offer a paper or two which 
they call a record, one witness and a book they call the laws of Virginia. 
I design for a time to examine such a case as they venture to present, before 
proceeding to our answer. 

Mr. Kerr got to his feet presumably to ask the Judge to have the de- 
fense put on its witnesses, if any, and get on with the trial. Ellis turned 
to him and said, — Saturday morning we asked for a delay to prepare the 
defense. The counsel of the claimant, against this presumption of the exist- 
ing freedom and innocence of the man in the dock, and against his right, 
dared to say we have no defense to make. Yesterday, at the earliest hour, 
while we were reduced to gathering our facts as they are putting on their 
case, the counsel ventured to say the same thing. And now, sir, he rises 


again to try and strike our weapons from our hands. On what sort of pre- 
sumption does he operate? 

Counsel Thomas pulled Kerr back into his chair. Ellis smiled and 
went on. 

— Sir, I am happy to state that we shall ofTer proof that this atrocious 
charge and seizure, made on a false pretense of robbery, have no founda- 
tion in fact. 

— The slave claimant's attorney said, too, that we have no defense to 
the case but against the law and that we came here to ask that it should 
be overridden and the Constitution violated. This, too, is not true. Not 
only have I never opposed the law but I have done something to stay re- 
sistance to it. I stand here for the prisoner, under and not against the law. 
I shall not shrink from debating the just limits of this bill of 1850. I avow 
my hatred, as a man and as a lawyer, of the bill. But, in reply to this re- 
mark of counsel, I will say that with these surroundings, with this form 
of seizure, charge, and procedure, in the midst of this Courthouse occupied 
like a fortress, with counsel detained by steel at their breasts, in a cause 
where claims are asserted and advocated by armed men, held in a room 
packed with political partisans, in a proceeding in which the sole law 
officer of the government, Mr. Benjamin Hallett, dared to dress down the 
presiding judge . . . that if there are persons who do need to be reminded 
that there is a Constitution and that there are laws, they are not counsel 
for the prisoner. It is not I. 

Mr. Thomas, against his own better judgment, got to his feet and ad- 
dressed the Court. — Your Honor, these comments on a man who is not 
here to defend himself are most insulting and hardly relevant to the pro- 
ceeding. I beg the court to inform the gentleman that the United States 
Government is not on trial here, and to have him get to his evidence and 
end this Abolition diatribe. 

The Judge regarded him blankly, trying to sift the law out of the 
injury, seeking for the proper words with which to admonish Ellis. Ellis 
spoke up. 

— Please, sir, I cannot consent that the counsel for the claimant shall 
hint to me the line of my duty. I judge not of his course. I notice these 
things only because of his own provoking. I neither commend nor con- 
demn their action. Their own consciences shall judge them. 

He turned to Thomas, who was still standing and looking fixedly at 
the Judge in hope of getting him to call Ellis to a halt. 

— One of the slave catcher's counsel, all expected to see here. The other 
appears in such a case for the first time. He has been a friend of mine. 

20 3 

I did not expect to see him here. As for myself, sooner than to lay my hand 
to the work of aiding in such a case, I would see it wither, and rather 
than speak one word for a slave claimant, I would be struck dumb forever. 

— Your Honor, cried Thomas, — I submit that these remarks are not 
on the case but against the Slave Act. 

— It is my duty so to remark, shouted Ellis, — and I am led to by this 
constant harping on the charge that we seek not a trial but a triumph 
over the law. 

He went directly to the bench, speaking rapidly and intimately, whip- 
ping the tempo up. 

— It is highly proper that the mind on the bench, which is to judge 
of fact and law, should perceive, clearly, everything in the position of the 
parties involved: the procedure, the circumstances and the results that 
may tend to disturb its balance. We stand here like blind and helpless 
wanderers without a single guidepost save the thing in which our dearest 
hopes are centered, your Honor's mind and judgment. May not that mind 
fail in the coming ruin! 

Between the whipping and the pleading, the Judge was drawn into the 
vortex of Ellis's intensity. He sat slightly turned from him, looking at 
him once in a while with oblique fascination. The constant references 
to his mind and its power and importance gave it a high isolation from his 
frail body, and he let it float over the courtroom. He inadvertently caught 
sight of the red-faced belligerence of Counsel Thomas, still on his feet 
hoping to break the flow of Ellis's argument. He waved him to his seat in 
a detached manner, not wishing to speak or to depart from the marvelous 
suspension of the mind. Ellis went on, speaking with incredible swiftness 
and backing slowly up the aisle to his chair, like a man flying a kite. 

— Sir, an attempt to mitigate the severity of this case by calling this trial 
a preliminary examination has been made and will be made again. Pre- 
liminary to what? The examination in Virginia was also a preliminary, I 
suppose. So shall each tinged with guilt lay this to his soul who acts at any 
stage. They know better when they say so. The law looks no further. Noth- 
ing is to follow. There is no postliminium. This is the final act on the 
farce of hearings. They know, we know, you know, that if you send him 
hence with them, he goes to the block, to the sugar or cotton plantation, 
to the lash under which Sims, who entered the dark portal, breathed 
out his life . . . and that man is a fool who expects me to believe other- 

— Your Honor, unless a case of overwhelming proof is presented, this 
certificate should be refused. They call one witness and as additional evi- 


dence, produced a paper to prove the three facts of service, escape and 
identity. We claim that it is, on their own showing, a direct falsehood; 
as we can prove by competent witnesses that at the time of the alleged 
escape, the person charged was a free man at work in Massachusetts. 

— I now wish to call William Jones as a witness for the defense who 
will prove that, contrary to the sworn statement of the claimant's witness, 
this man was in Boston on the first of March last, and not in Richmond, 
Virginia, on the nineteenth day of that month. 

When Mr. Jones got to his feet and made his way to the stand, the 
Southern gentlemen chuckled and great guffaws burst from the guards. 

— Look at the head on him, one shouted. It was an enormous head; 
like a baby's, rocking on a spindle-shanked body. His hair was not set like 
a neat wooly cap but sprung like a mass of blue steel shavings from his 
huge skull. His thin neck was fenced in by a very low white collar and 
when he turned his head, the collar and the black string tie stayed as rigid 
as if they were on a tailor's dummy. 

Mr. Ellis turned and stared angrily at the mockers, but Mr. Jones didn't 
seem to mind. He sat in the chair and bowed to the Judge and took the 
oath in a crisp nasal Yankee voice as salty as a caricature. 

Mr. Ellis put the question to him gingerly, wondering all the while if 
it had been wise to call a colored man for the first witness. After the first 
wave of amusement, the spectators on Suttle's side lapsed into an attitude 
of heavy, affected boredom, shifting restlessly in their seats and making 
the courtroom hum with the low plucking of light banter among them. 
The lawyers for the claimant shrugged their shoulders and turned their 
backs as if to say Well, this is the obvious thing. 

Mr. Jones testified in his confident twang that he lived in South Boston 
and that he was a laborer. He knew Burns and had seen him first on 
Washington Street on the first of March. 

This remark brought a slight lull in the obbligato of indifference. Mr. 
Kerr began to take notes. Mr. Thomas kept his back turned to both Ellis 
and the witness, but his fat back tensed up under his linen coat. 

— I talked to him awhile, about half an hour by the clock, said Mr. 
Jones, precisely. — And then I employed him to go to work on the fourth 
day of March in the Mattapan Iron Works at South Boston. We worked 
at cleaning windows. He worked with me five days. 

— Is there any particular reason why you should remember these exact 
dates, Mr. Jones? asked Ellis. 

— Yes, Mr. Counselor. I always believe in havin* everything in writing. 
Put it in writing, I always say, and nobody'll skin you. 


— We'll get him on that, whispered Thomas to Kerr. — That nigger 
can't write a line. 

Mr. Jones drew a little notebook from his pocket. — I can't write my- 
self, Mr. Counselor, he said, — so I went into Mr. Russell's store and 
asked him to put it down in my book. I agreed to give him eight cents a 
window, and when he got through with the job, I gave him a dollar and 
a half. 

He looked over at Burns in a reproving way, clucking his tongue dryly. 
— He said I hadn't settled up with him right. He went to the clerk 
about it. 

— But you had it all in the book, said Mr. Ellis in his brotherly way. 

— I had it all in the book. Jes' get things in writing and you won't never 
get skinned. That's how I know I did go to South Boston to work with 
him on the fourth. 

He gave Mr. Ellis the book and Ellis laid it on the Judge's desk. The 
Judge looked at it and laid it carefully on the other side of the desk, ex- 
actly opposite from the Virginia documents. 

Mr. Ellis took his seat. He kept his head down to hide a smile. The 
opposition table was quiet. Silas Carleton, a policeman who was to be a 
witness for Colonel Suttle, began to jabber to Thomas. He shook his head 
toward Mr. Jones. Mr. Jones looked around the courtroom and up at the 
Judge. He started to get up and go to his seat, but Ellis waved him back. 

Thomas and Kerr suddenly turned and faced him with hard and cal- 
culating eyes. The Southern students leaned forward in their chairs, star- 
ing malevolently. Mr. Jones looked a little puzzled. He didn't know he 
was being treated with the evil eye. He reached into his pocket, but instead 
of the dirty bandana which the Southerners thought would come out to 
claw at the expected sweat of fear springing out on his face, he brought 
out a pair of old spectacles. They were as thick as a skillet and missing 
the steel bow on one side, but he adjusted them with great dignity and 
peered back at them. He stuck his long neck forward and began to grin. 
Mr. Ellis smiled back at him and so did Theodore Parker, and Richard 
Dana gave him a friendly nod. With a cocky little shrug, he took them 
off again and put them away in his pocket. The leaning sorcerers, their 
evil exorcised, sank back in their seats. Mr. Thomas got up for the cross- 

— Now, Mr. Jones, said Thomas with heavy sarcasm. He walked to the 
witness stand, placed a hand on the rail and swung back to face the rear 
of the court. 

Mr. Jones dove into his pocket again for the spectacles. This time he 


did not put them on his nose but held them up a good eight inches before 
his eyes and gazed in bewilderment at Mr. Thomas's back. There was 
irreverent laughter from the guard at this. For a second or two, Mr. 
Thomas thought they were laughing with him, but then he turned un- 
easily and saw Mr. Jones was making him the butt. He faced Mr. Jones 
squarely, his face reddening. Mr. Jones narrowed his eyes and gave a good 
look at Mr. Thomas, and then put his spectacles away, sunk back and 
stared calmly up at the ceiling. 

Thomas began to fire questions at Jones; his voice was tight and quer- 
ulous. Mr. Jones answered him in high-pitched petulance. 

Q. I suppose you know the prisoner for years. He was your schoolmate 
at Boston Latin, wasn't he ? 

A. Never saw him before that day on Washington Street. 

Q. You just walked right up to him, a perfect stranger, and asked him 
to go to work for you? 

A. He spoke to me first. 

Q. What day of the week was this? 

A. Can't recollect the day of the week. It was about the first of the 

Q. Whereabouts on Washington Street? I suppose you can't recollect? 

A. Just below the Commonwealth Office. 

Q. Anyone with him? 

A. He was alone. 

Q. Dressed? 

A. Yes. He was dressed, Mr. Counselor. 

Mr. Jones brought out the spectacles at this and treated the groundlings 
to another guffaw. 

Q. How was he dressed, Mr. Jones? How was he dressed? 

A. He had lightish pants on. 

Q. Lightish pants? Do you consider that a good description? 

A. Good enough. It's not my business to examine his dress. 

Q. Wouldn't you consider it odd if you saw a man on a March day 
with merely a lightish pair of pants? 

A. He had a coat and cap on and shoes. 

Q. What kind of coat and cap? 

A. Lightish. 

Mr. Thomas decided that Mr. Jones was too shrewd a witness to badger 
too closely and decided to let him run on a while and then trip him up 
on some inconsistency of detail. — Tell us a little about your conversation, 
Mr. Jones. 


— Well, he asked me if I knew of anyone who wanted a man to work 
in a store. I asked him what he could do and he said he could do most 
anything. I took him from there to Mr. Russell's store and we went from 
there to Mr. Favor's shop. 

Q. Mr. Russell's shop is right there on Washington Street? 

A. No, sir. It's in the next street to Water Street. 

Q. Are you referring to Mr. Gideon Russell? 

A. I don't know, sir. 

Q. You don't know. Then you don't know where you were? 

A. No. I don't know Mr. Russell's Christian name. 

Q. Please answer the question. 

A. The Mr. Russell I know keeps a bootblack shop. 

Q. Then Mr. Russell didn't want any blacks? Pardon me, Mr. Jones 
. . . any bootblacks? 

A. I asked Mr. Russell to put down in that notebook that Mr. Burns 
was engaged for March the fourth, by me. Mr. Russell put down the black 
and white, Mr. Counselor. 

Q. How long did it take him to put it in black and white? 

A. About five minutes. Then we went to Mr. Favor's on Lincoln- 
Street, stayed three quarters of an hour, and then to the apothecary shop 
under the United States Hotel. 

Q. What did you go there for ? 

A. I went there to fool. I don't know what Mr. Burns went there 

There was more laughter at this. The fickle guard was beginning to 
like Mr. Jones. He was a sharp fellow and they hung approvingly on every 
word he said. Mr. Thomas decided to drop his badgering now that the 
witness was gaining sympathy, and to pretend boredom at his garrulous- 

— Then what, Mr. Thomas said wearily. — Go on, Mr. Jones. You went 
to the apothecary shop. 

— I fetched up there. I stayed there twenty-five minutes. I next went to 
Mr. Maddox's on Essex Street. He keeps a clothing store. I know his 
Christian name. It's Stephen, Mr. Thomas. I arrived there about two 
o'clock. Had nothing else to do but walk about the city. After leaving 
Mr. Maddox, I went to see Mr. Bell, the dancing master. 

Q. Where did you leave Mr. Burns? 

A. He came with me. 

Q. Did you have a dancing lesson ? 

A. He wasn't in. Then we went down Washington to Kneeland 


Street and then went home to South Boston. It was night when we 
arrived home. 

Q. And where did you dine? This was quite a busy day. 

A. I had not dined. 

Q. Isn't that strange, Mr. Jones? Two gentlemen strolling leisurely 
about the town, fooling at the apothecary and the dancing master's, on 
an empty stomach ? 

A. I eat but one meal a day and I have no particular hour for it. 

Mr. Thomas gave up. He sat down and motioned for Mr. Kerr to take 
over. Mr. Kerr decided to have a go at the weather. 

Q. Was it a pleasant day to walk around in, this March first? 

A. It was a little cold. 

Q. What about the snow? 

A. There might have been snow on the ground but I don't recollect. 
I don't recollect whether it snowed or rained. It might have rained 
twenty times. I wouldn't notice it. Mr. Burns stayed with me that night, 
the next night, the next and the next. 

Q. You provided him with a hideaway I suppose? 

A. I never expected to see this that I see here now. 

Q. Then on the next day . . . 

A. On the next day he came to the City Hall with me to see Mr. Gould. 
I don't know his Christian name. It was between ten and eleven o'clock. 
I wanted to get employment for myself. I wash windows and do odd 
jobs around the City Hall from time to time. Then I went to School 
Street and then went out to the Neck to take a walk and see what I 
could see. 

Q. Was Mr. Burns . . . 

A. Mr. Burns was with me all the time. 

Q. And the next day ? 

A. I got up, washed my face and hands and went out to the Mattapan 
Works to see Mr. Sawyer the boss. I stayed two or three hours and 
talked about the job and then went home. Burns was with me all the 

Q. Is this all down in the book? 

A. I commenced to work at one o'clock cleaning the windows. Burns 
helped me. The next morning he went back to work with me. 

Q. What about Mr. Burns's clothes? Did he leave them with you? 

A. He had no trunk. We worked all day and the next day. 

Q. Did you work during the snowstorm? 

A. Never keep the run of the weather or the day of the week. 


This brought another laugh from the guards. Mr. Thomas took over 

Q. I suppose when Mr. Burns questioned the amount you paid him, 
you threw him out? 

A. No. After finishing the job at the Iron Works, I took him with me 
up to City Hall to see Mr. Gould. Don't know his Christian name. There 
was no work to be done. On the eighteenth day of March, I went to work 
at the City Hall. Mr. Burns went with me about three times. He made 
the fire in the boiler for me and then he left and I never laid eyes on 
him again until Sunday morning when I saw him looking out of the 
window of the Courthouse. 

Mr. Thomas called for a recess and it was given until three o'clock. 

After the recess, when the court was in order, Mr. Thomas, in ominous 
tones, called for Mr. Jones to take the stand again. This time he had 
some notes on Mr. Jones and felt sure that he could break him. 

— Mr. Jones, he said, — according to your last testimony, you didn't 
see the prisoner again after the eighteenth of March until last Sunday 
morning, the twenty-eighth of May. 

A. Yes, Mr. Counselor. 

Q. Were you surprised to see him ? 

A. No, sir. 

Q. You seem to imply here, Jones, that you left him or, rather, he 
left you. By the by, did you pay him for helping you with the boiler? 

A. No. 

Q. Then it was another incident where you withheld from the man 
money rightly earned. 

Mr. Ellis objected. Objection sustained. 

— I only raised the question, your Honor, on the basis of the witness's 
own testimony that the alleged Burns questioned him on payment for 
the window-cleaning job and went to the bookkeeper to see how much 
he had been cheated. 

— What is your purpose, Mr. Thomas ? said the Judge. 

— To prove the lack of good faith and veracity in the witness, your 

— Very well, you may proceed along these lines. Counsel for the 
defense may take exceptions which I will consider later. 

Ellis sat down, disgusted. 


Q. Is it not true, Jones, that you had engaged in a great many suspi- 
cious activities even before you saw Burns at the window? 

Mr. Dana got up. — Your Honor, will you permit Counsel such care- 
lessness with adjectives? The witness is not capable of answering that 
kind of question without prejudicing himself. 

— No adjectives, if you please, Mr. Thomas, intoned the Judge. 

— Yes, your Honor. 

Q. Mr. Jones, did you know before Sunday that it was Mr. Burns who 
had been arrested? 

A. Yes, Mr. Counsel. I heard of it first on Thursday. I came into the 
Police Court and the Municipal Court. They said there was a man arrested 
and I walked around, but I didn't believe it. 

Q. When did you learn the awful truth? 

A. One of the officers told me of the arrest. 

Q. How did you know it was your former employee, or should I say 
your free-gratis boiler-tender? 

A. The officer described him to me. He mentioned the scar. 

Q. Then you suspected he might be the fugitive. Had Burns confided 
in you the story of his escape ? 

— Don't answer that, said Mr. Ellis. But Jones ignored him. 

A. No, sir, but the officer, Mr. Horace Brown, was employed at the 
Iron Works when I worked there with Burns and he knew him by the 
scar. He said, The man that worked with you at the Iron Works the first 
week in March has been arrested as a fugitive slave. . . . What did you 
say, Mr. Ellis? 

— Nothing, Mr, Jones, said Ellis, smiling broadly. — You've made 
your point. 

— Never mind what Mr. Brown said, shouted Thomas. He glared 
angrily back at Mr. Kerr who could not forbear smiling at Mr. Jones's 

— Yes, sir, said Mr. Jones, — I heard Mr. Brown say he'd speak for 
himself later on. 

— Answer the questions, Mr. Jones, said Judge Loring, but his tone 
was not harsh. 

Mr. Thomas looked down at his notes again. He was filled with rage 
at the shrewdness of the witness. He lost his temper and began to brow- 

Q. If you were in such ignorance about this case, why did you call on 
Colonel Suttle? 

A. That was after I had talked to Mr. Brown. 


Q. Why did you call on Colonel Suttle? Was it to offer your services 
as a witness for the claimant? 

A. No, sir. 

Q. Did you bring your notebook with you to have him set down the 
terms for favorable testimony? Was it to exact the terms of betrayal of 
this window washer whom you befriended and hired only to have him 
go behind your back and question your honesty with your employer? 

Mr. Ellis got to his feet again. Mr. Jones pulled out his glasses and 
looked at him and then motioned for him to sit down. Mr. Ellis did, but 

A. No, Mr. Counselor, I went to call on Mr. Suttle to tell him that he 
had the wrong man. 

Q. How did you know it was the wrong man if you hadn't even seen 
the man confined in the Courthouse ? 

A. Because Mr. Brown told me that it was the man who had worked 
for me on the first week of March. Mr. Suttle said his man was in 
Richmond on the twentieth of March. Then Mr. Suttle's man couldn't be 
my man, now could he, Mr. Thomas ? 

Thomas had to sit down and compose himself. He motioned roughly 
for Mr. Kerr to take over. 

— Mr. Jones, said Mr. Kerr. — We're trying to find out why you came 
to testify for this man. It's a long time since March eighteenth. Surely 
you didn't go to all this trouble without being sure it was Mr. Burns. 
Has someone approached you on this matter within the last few days? 

A. No, sir. I've had no conversation with anybody about this until 

Mr. Jones stopped for a moment and sized up Mr. Kerr. Mr. Kerr spoke 
in a low voice and did not attempt to bully. Mr. Jones spoke slowly. 
— I couldn't get in to see him. ... I stood on the opposite side. His head 
was out of the window. It was on Sunday, near twelve o'clock. When 
Mr. Brown told me that my man had been taken, I went nearly crazy. 
I didn't even know his name until someone read it to me from the 
papers. It was in the paper too, about when he left Richmond, on the 
twentieth, it said. I called him John or Jack or any short name that came 
handy. He was a good boy. I was sorry to lose track of him. I went to 
the Marshal and asked to see him. The Marshal said he wouldn't even 
let his owner see him. There I was, knowing they had the wrong man; 
knowing he was shut up there and I couldn't help him. 

Mr. Thomas and Mr. Kerr waited like cats to spring on some tiny 
betrayal as Jones went on. Dana and Ellis were tense and worried. 


— I went to the meeting in Faneuil Hall, and I came from there and 
stood on Court Street until the mob had left, and then went up to the 

He stopped, thinking about the meeting. 

— Then what? said Counsel Thomas rising again. 

— Then I went into the Courthouse. 

— On Friday night you went into the Courthouse. Why, Mr. Jones? 
Why did you go into the Courthouse? 

The answer came innocently and as smooth as butter. 

— To protect the city property. 

Over the laugh, Mr. Thomas bellowed, — And who employed you? 

— I employed myself, came gently the answer. 

— Did you employ yourself to come here with this crudely manu- 
factured iron-work testimony? 

— I came here because I saw a man looking out of a window. 

Mr. Kerr took the lead again. He said softly, — You spent quite a 
lot of time around the Courthouse, Mr. Jones. Why didn't you tell all 
this at the first examination on Saturday? You might have saved us all 
a lot of time. 

— I couldn't get in the Courthouse on Saturday. The guards drove me 
away. I stayed by the door until half-past seven Saturday night, and 
then I came back when the church bells rang on Sunday morning. 
Then I went to the Revere House to see Colonel Suttle again but he 
wasn't there. If it hadn't been for Mr. Phillips, I would never have got 
in. I'd never had the chance to tell you people that you got the wrong 

Mr. Thomas got to his feet and pointed at Silas Carleton. 
Q. Did you ever see that man? 
A. Yes, sir. I saw him in the Marshal's office. 
Q. Did you have words with him? 

A. Yes, I had a few words with him. But I didn't tell him that Burns 
belonged to Colonel Suttle. 

— Your Honor, I object. Witness was not asked that question, said 

— And I didn't say if I saw him I would advise him to go back. 

— Mr. Jones, said the Judge, — please do not introduce comments 
until you are questioned. On motion of the Counsel, I will rule out 
reference to conversation with Officer Carleton. Court is adjourned until 
ten o'clock tomorrow. 


Ben Hallett did not attend court that day by request of the attorneys 
for the claimant. During the afternoon the tension of his enforced 
absence made the time drag. He decided to pay a call on General 
Edmands of the State Militia, now set up in headquarters at the Odium 

The general was a small, pot-bellied man, a druggist by trade. He was 
undistinguished-looking except for a pair of unusually shapely legs which 
he took great care to cover with the finest and tightest of trousers. His 
legs, or rather, the look of his legs, had drawn him into the military 
service, where they could best be revealed by the short coat and the 
gold-striped red trousers of the officer's uniform. His home life was 
painful. His wife was an enormous woman with a mustache and facing 
her day in and day out had given him the bold set face that flinches not 
while looking into the cannon's mouth. 

He had a fine room on the street floor of the hotel and the use of the 
lobby, but he was anxious about where the money was coming from 
to pay for it. He had had to wheedle fifty dollars out of his wife to pay 
for his current bills. — It's my only rest, he said. — Two weeks a year 
in camp and this is the only time I get away from that cussed pharmacy. 
I've put in over fifteen years there from seven in the morning to ten or 
eleven at night and I deserve a little pleasure. 

She grudgingly gave him the money on the promise that it wouldn't 
happen again. — This is the last time, she warned. — I don't want you 
calling out any more troops to get drunk and insult women in the streets. 
You promised me you'd do the carpets this week but I'll let that go if 
you promise to wallpaper the privy on the Fourth. 

He promised, and now he sat in uneasy splendor on the carved plush 
chairs of the hotel and heard the reports of his men who always stopped 
for a word or two with him on their way to the bar. 

Ben Hallett, never one to let time go begging, came to see him 
around luncheon time. Ben thought it presented a good opportunity 
to get out more troops and he wanted the general's opinion on the 

— You told me this thing would be all cleaned up on Monday, said 
the general when Ben approached him. — My men or myself haven't 
realized a penny out of this so far. They're eating out of their own 
pockets. The caterer won't serve them any more. I'd arranged to feed 
from him on tick and now that's out. 

— I've wired Washington for money, said Ben importantly. 

— Washington? said the general. 


— Why, yes, said Ben, regarding his fingernails. — The President. I've 
just heard from him. He's deeply interested. 

The general covertly shoved his hand in his pocket and felt for his 
money. There was still a good-sized lump there. 

— Shall we dine here, Ben, he said — or have a snack at the Revere 
House ? 

— This will be all right, Ben said, — if you're not tired of it. 

— Well, said the general, — it is a little tiresome eating from the same 
cook three days in a row, but my men are constantly reporting on things 
and I can receive them right at the table. 

— How many men have you got out now, General ? asked Ben as they 
worked on their squab. 

— Two full companies. 

Ben dropped the carcass in disgust. — Two companies? What's that 
for? The corporal's guard? 

— I can manage another company if you're sure about the money. 

— For God's sake, don't be so pettifogging. You're not rolling pills 
now. Call out the whole brigade! 

— The whole brigade! That's a thousand men, Ben. The Mayor won't 
stand for it. 

— Too damn bad about him. I happen to be taking orders from 
Mr. Franklin Pierce. 

— All right, said the general. — I'll do it. But you'll have to put it up 
to the Mayor. I wouldn't dare ask him. 

— We'll write him a letter. 

— Will you sign it, Ben? I'm in business here, you know. I'm not a 
political fellow, and the Mayor's a doctor. It don't do for a druggist to 
get the doctors down on him. You see what I mean? 

— We'll have Watson sign it. 

They both laughed at this, tossed off their dessert and went back to 
the general's room. Ben loved to write letters. 


From the indications of an armed resistance to the laws and the 
assurances of the military officers on duty, it is manifest that the 
force under the orders of Major General Edmands is not sufficient 
to preserve the peace of the city. He does not ask any aid to execute 
the Fugitive Slave Law as such. Nothing is required but the keeping 
of the peace and the suppression of organized rebellion. 

To effect this, we respectfully submit that if bloodshed is to be 


prevented in the public streets, there must be such a demonstration 
of military force as will overawe attack and avoid an inevitable con- 
flict between the armed posse of the Marshal and the rioters. To this 
end, we request that you exercise the powers the law has confided 
to you and place under his command the entire brigade. 

— Don't come right out flat with it, Ben, said the general nervously. 
Ben scratched out the last part and substituted . . . place under his 

command such a body of the Volunteer Militia as will insure the peace 
of the city without a conflict. . . . Then added: We have no express au- 
thority to pledge the general government but we believe the expense in- 
curred by such a military force will be met by the President. 

— Now we'll get old Watson to sign this and shoot it over to the 
Mayor's office. We'll wait here a while for the reply. The whole brigade, 
General. Don't get chicken-hearted about this. 

— Yes, Ben, said the general. . . . Maybe I'll paper the bedroom too, 
he thought. 

The answer that came from the Mayor some time later gave Ben his 
first news of what had transpired in the trial that afternoon. When he 
read it, Ben erupted. — That's what happens when I stay away from 
the courtroom. What the hell's the matter with that Seth Thomas? 

The general picked up the Mayor's communication from out of the 
splendid brass spittoon. It was brief. 

General Edmands: 

After a careful examination of the condition of the city since the 
turn of events in the trial of the fugitive, I feel justified in saying 
that one military company will be amply sufficient to maintain order 
and suppress rioting, acting in concert with the police. 

— At nine o'clock tonight, therefore, you will please discharge 
one of the two companies on duty under your command. 

Very respectfully yours, 
J. V. C. Smith, Mayor 

Underneath was scrawled informally, . . . Let me see the color of 
your money! 

The general smoothed it out and put it sadly in his dispatch pocket. 
— He's right, Ben. We have no positive assurance. . . . 

Ben got up and put on his hat. — Let's go down to the telegraph 
office, he said. He walked so fast, the general had to unhook his sword 
and carry it under his arm to keep up with him. 


— Anything for me? Ben snarled at Nick, trying to ease his tender 
rump on the hard bench at the office. 

— No, sir, said Nick. 

— Well, stay here until there is, Ben growled, slamming the door on 
his way out. 

With a curt good-by to the general, Ben got into a hack and went home. 

The delay in the answer to Ben's telegram had been caused by a wran- 
gle in the Cabinet of the President. The case had been discussed on this 
level since Sunday when it was thought of so much importance that the 
Cabinet abstained from churchgoing to discuss it. There was agreement 
there that the slave should be returned as a token of the power of the 
Party. The press of Washington insisted on it. But Marcy, the Secretary 
of State, didn't want to stir up the North too much with military displays. 
He was busy with the administration plan for invading Cuba, a delicate 
question of tactics and public opinion. But Caleb Cushing, a Massachu- 
setts man, sided strongly with Jeff Davis of Mississippi and it was finally 
agreed to send to Boston . . . under direct orders of the President . . .. 
Colonel Cooper, Adjutant General of the United States Army. Davis and 
Cushing worked well as a team, wielding the two prongs of court control 
and military might between them, and the Party was already talking of 
dumping Pierce and heading the ticket for '56 with Davis and Cushing, 
loyal sons of the Union, without sectional differences. 

Around nine that night, the message came through to Boston, and 
Queeny jogged across the Common and up the hill to Louisburg Square. 
Ben's house was dark and no one answered his bell-ringing. He went tc* 
the Odium for the general and he was told that Edmands was over at 
Faneuil Hall. 

Faneuil Hall was no longer a pesthouse of incitement and sedition. The 
city troops were quartered there, and had stamped out with drum taps 
and the measured footfalls of files on parade all the lurking echoes of 
Friday's congress of revolt. 

But when Nick got to the stairs, the holiday soldiers were drawn up in 
sad and silent rows with presented arms and General Edmands was pass- 
ing before them, ready to give the order for their dispersal. 

The general had decided to dismiss both of the companies. He had 
heard more about the sharp turn in the case at the Courthouse and had 
figured that he wasn't going to be caught foolishly on guard in a city 


suddenly quiet and unbesiegcd and in no mood to pay the bills for such 
a gaudy show of protection against itself. 

He stood by the door, ready to give the order. One of the captains ap- 
proached him and said, — The Company asks permission to drink a toast 
in place to the general, sir. 

Edmands looked at him doubtfully. It was a nice thought but then 
he'd have to buy them a round and the thing could go on all night. While 
he was pondering his purse versus his popularity, he saw Nick enter and 
look for him. He waved him over. 

Nick approached awkwardly, abashed by the spit and polish all around. 
He handed the general the message, wondering if he ought to salute or 

— It's for Mr. Hallett, he said. — But he wasn't home. I thought you'd 
better see it. It's from Washington. 

The general read it slowly. Then with a happy smile he stepped to the 
center of the floor and said with an unmilitary wave of the arm, — Drink 
all you like, boys. . . . It's on the house. It's on the White House. 

The boys broke ranks and tossed their little general in the air with joy, 
cheering him, the President and the Cabinet members, one by one. Even 
Ben Hallett came in for a cheer, for the message to him read : 

Incur any expense deemed necessary by the Marshal or your- 

the law. Franklin Pierce. 




Ben was far from popular with his colleagues dwelling nearby on Beacon 
Hill. But as he crossed the Common this morning on his way to the office, 
a number of them stopped for a word with him before walking swiftly 
on, ahead of his slow and stately stride. They all remarked on how well 
the trial was going. He realized that their comments were sneers and that 
it had become the general legal opinion that the government was losing its 
case. He smiled and nodded politely to them all, outwardly ignoring the 
sneers but inwardly he resolved to go to court that day and raise particular 
hell over the shilly-shallying of Judge Loring. He stopped first at the 
Odium to see General Edmands. When he read the telegram, he decided 
that the events in the courtroom might not be so important after all and 
went to the Mayor's office with the general at once. 

The Mayor was also pleased with the way the case was going at the 

— Well, gentlemen, he said with a smile, — I suppose you've come to 
tell me that there'll be no further use for the military. I can't pay them 
off right now, mind you. I'll have to get an appropriation from the alder- 
men and that's going to take some hammering. But I'll keep in touch. 

He turned away. Ben winked at the general and said in a formal man- 
ner: — Mr. Mayor, the general and I deem it necessary that when the 
decision of the Commissioner is to be given, which will probably be Fri- 
day morning, the avenues and streets around the Courthouse should be 
cleared of the crowd and an ample military force be on guard to prevent 
riot or personal outrage, which are then to be anticipated, whatever may 
be the decision. 

The Mayor laughed. — Whatever may be the decision! That's a good 
one. Have you any doubts after the line of witnesses on Burns's side? 

— And we deem it necessary, continued Ben blandly, — that if the Mar- 
shal with his posse is required to pass through the streets, they should not 


be crowded upon, molested or placed in a situation where it may be neces- 
sary for them to protect themselves by a resort to arms. This will require 
the entire military and police force of the city to prevent riots and assaults 
on the officers of the law in the discharge of their duty. 

— Come off it, Ben, said the Mayor. — You've lost your case and you 
know it. Your boys might get mobbed, I won't deny that, but you had it 
coming to you. If it wasn't for my vote you'd all have been kicked out 
of the Courthouse last Sunday. I tried to do you a favor but it might have 
been better if I had kicked you out. For heaven's sake, Ben, be reasonable. 
Take a trip into the country. Go back to Barnstable. You've muffed this 

He turned and sat at his desk. Ben stood there impassively, looking 
down at him. The Mayor rose angrily. 

— You're getting my goat now, Ben. I'm still Mayor and I can have 
you escorted out of this office by my Chief of Police, and that tin soldier 
with you. 

He was intentionally whipping himself into a tantrum. The moment 
he raised his voice to shout he felt a tremendous sense of relief and even 
elation. He shouted louder, filling the high-ceilinged room with his happy 

— You've made a lot of trouble for me. You've showed mighty little 
consideration for my position and my feelings. I've put myself on record 
against this law. I half-promised to speak at the mass meeting. I told the 
Police Department to keep their hands off this affair. Now, since I've 
been listening to you, I've involved myself, the Police Department and the 
City Militia in helping to send that man back. I'm through, Ben. You can 
go to hell on this thing. I'm through! 

Ben continued in his best legal tones. — We repeat what we have said 
before. The United States Officers do not desire you to execute the process 
under the law of the United States. But they call on you as the conservator 
of law and order in this city to check those who may attempt to resist the 
lawful discharge of their duties by the Marshal's posse. Here is a copy of 
the authority derived from the President of the United States. 

Ben tossed his trump card, the President's telegram, on the desk. After 
a few seconds* hesitation the Mayor read it without touching it. His face 
fell. He clawed a moment at his collar and went to the window overlook- 
ing the square in silence. 

Ben crossed swiftly to him and said in a seductive undertone, — Let's let 
bygones be bygones, Doc. I know how it is. I'm in politics myself. Think 
of what it will mean to have a thousand men to pay off with an election 


coming up. I'll see that you have the entire dispersal of the funds. There'll 
be between fifteen and twenty thousand dollars sent up here from Wash- 
ington and it won't show on the city books at all. 

The Mayor wheeled angrily. — Now you're trying to make a crook out 
of me! He picked up the telegram, crumpled it savagely in his fist and 
threw it at Ben. — Get out of here, the both of you! 

He ran to the door and shouted, — Chief, Chief Taylor! 

At this moment, an elegantly dressed soldier stepped by him into the 
room and gazed in wonder at his inflamed face. The Mayor closed the 
door quickly and came back into the room. 

— Colonel Cooper, sir, Adjutant General of the United States Army. 
Which of you gentlemen is Mayor Smith ? 

— Me, said the Mayor, open-mouthed. 

— I have been assigned to cover this situation under personal orders of 
the President, sir. I am at your service. 

The Mayor shook hands with him limply, still too dumbfounded to 

Ben introduced himself and General Edmands. — I'm afraid His Honor 
doesn't appreciate the gravity of the crisis, Colonel. He has just refused to 
accede to our request for the full complement of the Militia. 

The colonel looked coldly at the Mayor. — Civilians rarely do, he said. 
— However, Mr. Hallett, we have had two companies of troops under 
arms for forty-eight hours because of this, and I shall have them here as 
soon as possible. 

He turned and saluted the Mayor. 

— New York troops? The Mayor gulped and said. — All right, Ben, 
you win. Call 'em out. Get farmers with pitchforks, anything, anything! 

— In writing, please, your Honor. I think you remember the correct 
form beginning, Whereas there is threatened a tumult, a riot, or a mob of 
men acting together, et cetera . . . ? 

— I ought to, I've been writing nothing else for a week. . . . He 
wearily began to scratch on some official paper. 

— Your arrival was most fortuitous, said Ben to Colonel Cooper. 

— It was fortunate too, said the general, with New England nicety. 

The trial opened with a spadix of eight more witnesses around the Jones 
testimony. Mr. Brewer, a white man, the bookkeeper of the Mattapan Iron 
Works, gave testimony that Jones was indeed employed there on the days 
he mentioned. He had seen the colored man working with him, recognized 


him as the prisoner at the bar. He had seen him with Jones when they 
asked for the job. 

— I looked at the man and I asked Jones if he was his brother and Jones 
said, All men are brothers. 

The guards smiled at this as if to say, That's Jones all right, he's a smart 

— About the first of March, added Brewer, — after I settled with Jones, 
Burns came to me and asked me how much I paid Jones. I saw him enough 
to recognize him here. When I came in yesterday, Burns followed me all 
around the room with his eyes. 

On the cross-examination, Brewer fixed the date by the entry in the cash 
book. He said he paid Jones $1.50 on the fourth of March and made a final 
settlement on the twenty-eighth. He paid him in all $33.50. He was ex- 
cused. He had held up. 

James F. Whittemore, a member of the City Council, had seen Burns 
cleaning the windows of the foundry on the eighth and ninth of March. 

Thomas cross-examined carefully, knowing that his testimony would 
carry more weight than the others. Mr. Whittemore said he knew it was 
on the eighth of March because he had left Philadelphia on the sixth. 

— I saw Burns for the first time since, yesterday morning. I came in to 
see if I could identify him. No one asked me to come but something was 
said about him cleaning windows at the Iron Works. I took my seat before 
looking at him. I turned around and saw Burns and immediately stated to 
the man sitting beside me that he was the man. I went to Mr. Ellis's office. 
It was rumored that an attempt would be made to prove that Burns was 
here before the middle of the month. 

Thomas could not forbear to ask at what sort of place he had heard such 
a rumor. — It couldn't, by chance, be at 21 Cornhill? 

Mr. Whittemore took this very calmly. — I heard it two nights ago at 
the Armory of the military company to which I belong, the Pulaski Guards. 
I heard there that Mr. Jones employed the prisoner on the first of March. 
I said nothing to anyone about it but made up my mind I would see the 
prisoner. When I did, I went to Mr. Ellis's office to offer my testimony. 

Mr. Dana rose and said, — Mr. Whittemore, I'm afraid this testimony 
on your part will cause you to be considered one of Mr. Garrison's fol- 
lowers. Are you, sir ? 

— Objection, said Thomas, — question is irrelevant. 

— I'll allow it, said the Judge, for the sake of the witness. 

— That's ridiculous, said Whittemore, — I am the Lieutenant of the 
Pulaski Guards. I am sworn to carry out the full measure of the law in this 


case. In politics I am a Hunker Whig. I would never suffer from the impu- 
tation of being a Free-soiler or an Abolitionist. I am a Hunker Whig. 

When he stepped down, Mr. Thomas asked the bench for a recess and it 
was granted. When they reconvened, Ben Hallett was again at the desk of 
the Colonel's attorneys. The opposition came on like an avalanche in the 
persons of William C. Culver, H. N. Gilman, Rufus A. Putnam of the 
Iron Works, who remembered Burns well. All that the cross-examination 
could elicit was that Mr. Jones had talked to them a short time previously 
and refreshed their memories a bit. 

Even Mr. Horace Brown, new brass badge and all, took the stand and 
doggedly insisted that Burns had cleaned his particular window while he 
was working for the Mattapan company and that he knew him by his gen- 
eral appearance and by the scar on his face. — I thought I should know 
him by this mark, he said, — and said so to some of the men in the police 

And then Ellis called the stops of Mr. Jones's peregrinations of that mad 
March day when he and the man in the lightish pants, coat, and cap visited 
Mr. Stephen Maddox, colored, and asked him for a job. Mr. Maddox, a 
kindly man, fixed the time in a characteristic way, by offering his excuse 
for not hiring him. — I told him my outside work didn't begin for a couple 
of months and I would hire him then. The first of May, that is, that's what 
I can fix the time by. 

Mr. John Favor, a white man with a carpenter shop on Lincoln Street, 
spoke of the visit of Jones and Burns. He had nothing to fix the time. 
But he stood so firm, respectable and foursquare, that the cross-examiner 
didn't press him further. 

Thus ended the defense except for the summing-up. The other side 
would have to call rebutting witnesses. 

Mr. Thomas was pretty bitter about things. He cursed Watson Freeman 
for not telling him about the visit of Jones. He was sure they could have 
drawn his fangs or bought him off if they had known of his plans. At least 
they could have dropped Brent's assertion that he had seen Burns on the 
twentieth. It was cruel to be brought to the brink of failure by that feeble, 
squinting, spring-haired darky. He decided to put Carleton on the stand 
and roast him a bit, to make him lie out for all of them. 

Carleton was nervous on the stand. He had actually talked to Jones but 
had said nothing about it, instead of blabbing to Ben Hallett as he did 
about everything else. But the Jones man looked like five cents' worth of 
dog meat . . . who would have thought he would ever matter? 

Q. Do you know this man Jones, Mr. Carleton? 


A. Yes sir. 

Q. Have you had any conversation with him in the last few days? 
A. Yes, sir. He came into the Marshal's office a few days ago when I 
was there and we got to talking about Burns and he said . . . 

— I object to this testimony, your Honor, said Richard Dana. — Mr. 
Jones's testimony to the same conversation was ruled out previously by 
objection of the claimant's Counsel. 

The Judge had no choice. He had to rule that no conversation to which 
the claimant's counsel had objected could be admitted. 

Mr. Thomas waved Carleton abruptly off the stand and looked about for 
someone to hurl into the breach. His wildly roving eye fell on Ben Hallett, 
who pointed demandingly at Benjamin True, a dark, wall-eyed villainous- 
looking man with ample experience in court on the wrong side of the dock. 
Thomas called him to the stand. 

Q. Have you had any conversation with the prisoner since you last gave 
testimony, Mr. True ? 

A. I have talked with Burns within the last day or two. 

Mr. Dana objected to the question, saying it was not rebutting evidence. 

Mr. Thomas said that he proposed to show by this witness that, by 
Burns's admission, he came to Boston on the nineteenth of April. 

Mr. Thomas was glad for once for the objection, because it gave him a 
chance to put the right words into the mouth of the witness. 

But Mr. Dana objected again, saying that the testimony of the man 
under arrest could not be received at all. — And I repeat, your Honor, it is 
not rebutting testimony. We introduced evidence that Burns was here on 
the first of March, as contradictory to Brent's testimony that Burns was in 
Virginia on the twentieth of March, and now they are simply reinforcing 
their former testimony. There is no rebuttal here. 

The Judge, cowed by the unsuppressed anger and humiliation of Coun- 
sel Thomas, said he would admit the testimony. On the other hand, — If I 
change my mind subsequently, before the arguments, I will inform you, 
Mr. Dana. 

Thomas swung quickly around to Benjamin True and began a ruffle of 
questions which fell on the witness like drumsticks. And as he thumped, 
the witness rumbled, his words vibrating with brute force. 

— I am a constable of Boston. I first saw the prisoner on the night of his 
arrest. I was told the Marshal wanted to use me. I went to his office. He 
sent me upstairs to where the prisoner was confined. I was to stay there and 
see that no one came there except by the direction of the Marshal. I was 
armed with a pistol and a sword. There were six of us always in the room. 


— The Marshal and Colonel Suttle came into the room on Wednesday 
night. I heard Burns speak to Colonel Suttle. I didn't hear Suttle say he 
must go back. At first he was scared. He has talked about Massachusetts, 
Virginia and other matters. I never threatened him or held out any prom- 
ises to him. We treated him well. We tried to. We gave him newspapers, 
oranges, oyster stews and candy when he wished them. He can read and 

Mr. Ellis tried again. — I object, Mr. Commissioner. These admissions 
should not be received. They intimidated him in the beginning and in- 
creased the intimidation hour by hour and day by day. 

— Objection overruled, said the Judge. — Proceed, Mr. True. 

True looked directly at him and said, — The conversation Mr. Thomas 
means was on Friday and Saturday. I asked him how long he had been 
here. He said about two months, perhaps a little short of that. He said he 
had been in Richmond, Virginia, before that time. 

— That's all, thank you, Mr. True, said Thomas. — With this witness, 
your Honor, we wish to rest our case. 

Mr. Dana, who had risen to cross-examine True, sat down again. The 
abrupt closing by Mr. Thomas had taken him by surprise. He had been 
sure that Jones would be re-examined. He himself saw many discrepancies 
in his own witness's testimony. But looking over at Counsel Thomas, still 
hot with fury, mopping his face and growling at Junior Kerr, he under- 
stood his desire to get it over with. 

— Ask for a recess, Ellis said. — They're trying to catch you unprepared. 
Have you got your argument ready ? 

Dana showed him four or five scraps of paper and said, — I'm going to 
begin now. Let the Judge call a recess if he wishes. 

In the silence that fell on the courtroom, the eyes of the spectators ran 
the triangle of the drama, from Dana to the Judge to the black man in the 
dock. None of them looked at Parker. They thought he was safely outside 
the shape of the conflict. They could not follow the often oblique line of 
fate which, in this case, had impaled him on all three of the points of 

Richard Dana looked at him, unkindly, because he felt his constant pres- 
ence at the trial was to spur him. The Judge looked, unkindly too, because 
he thought Parker was there to spy on him. And Tony Burns gave him a 
smoldering look of hate because he was beginning to feel in his bones that, 
as the basic cause of all this expensive wrangling, he would be the subject 
of bitter and prolonged reprisal. 

None but Parker knew that at this moment he had more at stake than 


any of them. 11 Richard Dana convinced; the Judge yielded; and Anthony 
Burns walked out a free man . . . then that horrible moment at Faneuil 
Hall, that nightmare of wavering procrastination and sheer betrayal, would 
be snickered away, an unfortunate fiasco, a misadventure, high jinks for 
later reminiscence. 

But if the man goes back, and Ben Hallett wins a taste of blood, who 
will suffer more than he in the backwash of failure? Who will be flayed 
more than he by foes and friends and endlessly by his own conscience? 
Who knows the ordeals which will begin the moment Anthony Burns 
leaves for a Southern barracoon and Theodore Parker remains in a Boston 

He shifted restlessly in his seat and looked around to pull his mind away 
from the premature torment of his ego. He watched the court reporters, 
with their pencils poised, waiting to take down the best of Richard Dana. 
An involuntary smile began to twitch his lips. The reporters were looking 
at him now, whispering to one another behind cupped palms, and adding 
a few sly twigs to the roasting they had given him in the morning editions. 
He had lost the initiative, he had even lost the leadership, but the irony 
was that in their zeal to find the most spectacular scapegoat, the newspapers 
were giving it back to him. 

Richard Dana, with no more than a few scraps of paper for notes, rose to 
make his final plea. He stood clothed in innocence and self -trust, not in the 
least apologetic or mealy-mouthed. 

— I congratulate you, sir, that your labors, so anxious and painful, are 
drawing to a close. I congratulate the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 
that, at length, by leave of the United States Marshal and the District At- 
torney of the United States, first had and obtained therefor, her Courts 
may be re-opened and her judges, suitors and witnesses may pass and re- 
pass without being obliged to satisfy hirelings of the United States Marshal 
and bayoneted foreigners, clothed in the uniform of our Army and Navy, 
that they have a right to be here. I congratulate the City of Boston, that her 
peace is to be no longer in danger. Yet I cannot help admit that some parts 
of the city were never so safe as when the Marshal had his posse of specials 
here in the Courthouse. Why, sir, people have not felt it necessary to lock 
their doors at night, the brothels have been tenanted only by women, fight- 
ing dogs and race horses have been unemployed and the Ann Street cellars 
show the signs of a coming millennium. 

— I congratulate the Government of the United States, that its legal rep- 


resentative can return to his appropriate duties and that his sedulous pres- 
ence will no longer be needed here in a private civil suit, for the purpose of 
intimidation, a purpose which his efforts the day before yesterday showed 
every desire to effect, which, though it did not influence this court in the 
least, I deeply regret your Honor did not put down at once . . . and bring 
to bear on him the judicial power of this tribunal. 

— I congratulate the Marshal of the United States that the ordinary re- 
spectability of his character is to be no longer in danger from the character 
of the associates he is obliged to call about him. I congratulate the officers 
of the Army and Navy that they can be relieved from this service, which as 
gentlemen and soldiers surely they despise, and can draw off their noncom- 
missioned officers, both drunk and sober, from this fortified slave pen, to 
the custody of the forts and fleets of our country, which have been left in 
peril, that this great Republic might add to its glories the trophies of one 
more captured slave. 

— I offer these congratulations in the belief that the decision of your 
Honor will restore to freedom this man whom fraud and violence found 
a week ago a freeman on the soil of Massachusetts. But rather than that 
your decision should consign him to perpetual bondage, I would say: 
Let this session never break up! Let us sit here to the end of that man's life, 
or to the end of ours. . . . But, assured your Honor will carry through this 
trial, the presumption which you recognized in the outset, that this man is 
free until he is proved a slave, we look with confidence to a better termi- 

— Sir Matthew Hale said it was better that nine men should escape than 
that one innocent man should suffer. This maxim has been approved by all 
jurists and statesmen from that day to this. It was applied in a case of 
murder, where one man's life was on one side and the interest of a com- 
munity on the other. 

When Dana said this he turned and gave a long meaningful look at 
Louis Varelli, who had been acquitted, in the face of seven witnesses, of 
the charge of murder of a woman whom he had thrown over the Charles- 
town Bridge. Varelli smiled and preened himself. His boys gazed at him in 

— How much more should it be applied in a case like this, where on one 
side is something dearer than life and on the other no public interest what- 
ever, but only the value of a few hundred pieces of silver, which the claim- 
ant himself, when it was offered to him, refused to receive? 

This was another blow, full on Ben Hallett for counseling refusal of the 
offer, and glancing at Counsel Kerr who had urged it, arranged it, then 


had failed to bring it off. It was here that Parker stopped feeling sorry for 
Richard Dana and began to feel a little envy. Dana came to a full stop here 
and let a pause blot out the justifiable pettiness of this sharp, personal at- 
tack. He began again in a different voice, trying to make the others feel the 
exultation of his rushing thoughts. 

— It is not by rhetoric, but in human nature, by the judgment of man- 
kind, that liberty is dearer than life. Men of honor set their lives at a pin's 
fee on a point of etiquette. Men imperil it for pleasure, for glory, for gain, 
for curiosity, and throw it away to escape poverty, disgrace or despair. Men 
have sought for death and have dug for it as for hid treasure. But when do 
men seek for slavery, for captivity? I have never been one of those who 
think human life is the highest thing. I believe there are things more 
sacred than life. Therefore I believe men may sacrifice their own lives and 
that the community, sometimes the single man, may take the lives of 
others. I had thought that this was the belief held by all mankind. But no, 
there are some in my sight now who care nothing for freedom! 

Dana walked over to Anthony Burns and looked carefully at him. He 
seemed a great deal different from the cowering, piteously broken prisoner 
who had reluctantly submitted to Dana's offer of a defense. Tony had 
measured himself in the interim against the gun-toting, swinish free men 
of the Marshal's wolf pack and set a new mark for himself on the wall. 
Dana's next comment was made to Tony, calmly and for the purposes of 

— We have before us a free man. 

He turned to the Judge and said in a conversational tone: — Colonel 
Suttle says there was a man in Virginia named Anthony Burns; that that 
man is a slave by the laws of Virginia and that he is his slave. He says he 
escaped from Virginia and that the prisoner at the bar is that Anthony 
Burns. He says all this. Let him prove it all. Let him fail in one point, let 
him fall short the width of a spider's thread in the proof of all of his horrid 
category, and the man goes free. 

He turned back to Burns and leaned lightly against the rail of the box, 
he spoke slowly and sadly. 

— On the point of identity, the most frequent, the most notorious and 
the most fatal mistakes have been made in all ages. One of the earliest and 
most pathetic narratives of Holy Writ is that of the patriarch, cautious, 
anxious, crying again and again . . . Art thou my very son Esau . . . and 
by a fatal error reversing a birthright, with consequences to be felt until 
the end of time. 

He went back to the Judge, conversational again. 


— You know, sir . . . they are matters of common knowledge . . . that 
a mother has taken to her bosom a stranger for a son, a few years absent at 
sea. Whole families and whole villages have been deceived and perplexed 
in the form and face of one whom they have known from a child. You 
have found it difficult to recognize your own classmates at the age of 
twenty-three, who left you in the sophomore year. Brothers have mistaken 
brothers. We have the comedy of errors. Let us not have the tragedy of 

— We have lately had a case in Indiana where a man was remanded 
upon identification of the claimant. It turned out to be a mistake and the 
injured party recovered two thousand dollars in damages. But who can 
tell you of the undiscovered mistakes, the numbers who have been hurried 
off, by some accidental resemblance of scars or cuts, or height, and fallen 
as drops, undistinguishable, into the black ocean of slavery? 

Anthony, now getting embarrassed by the nearness and attention of 
Dana, had great drops of perspiration standing out on his face; and as 
Dana spoke, again standing in front of the prisoner, he looked and induced 
the looks of the court to Tony's forehead, and they watched with fascina- 
tion the drops roll down his face and disappear into nothingness on his old 
black coat. Dana gave Tony his handkerchief, but Tony held it in his hand, 
not daring to use it for fear of provoking laughter and shame. Dana swung 
away from him and went to the Judge again. 

— Make a mistake here and it will be irremediable. The man they seek 
has never lived under the Colonel's roof since he was a boy. He has always 
been leased out. The man you send away will be sold. He will never 
see the light of a Virginia sun. He will be sold at the first block, to 
perish after his first few years of unwanted service in the sugar fields 
of the deep South. Let us have no chance for a mistake, no doubt and 
no misgiving. 

Dana here changed pace into a crisp, impersonal, cantering run of voice, 
moving around the courtroom, touching the books on the judge's bench, 
crossing to the defense table to pick up a quill and drop it and always 
keeping his back turned on Tony as though he had been shut out of the 
case from now on. 

— Now, what is the evidence ? One witness and a piece of paper. The 
paper cannot identify . . . the witness must. He cannot identify himself to 
us with any clarity. He says he is a grocer and lives in Richmond. Even this 
much is not good or bad. He leased, as an agent, the man who escaped, but 
knew him well years ago when the man was an adolescent; and he has 
not seen him, except occasionally in the street, since he has grown. He 


knows he was a dark-complected man and had it put into the record. The 
prisoner at the bar is a full-blooded Negro. Dark complexions are not un- 
common here or in Virginia. The man I defend is set off from us by one 
of the great primal divisions of the human race. It does not say so in the 
record. It might as well have omitted the sex of the fugitive. It says he has 
a scar. The prisoner bears on his right cheek a brand as wide as the palm 
of a hand. It says he has a scar on his right hand. The prisoner's hand is 
broken and a bone stands out from the back of it. It makes a hump an inch 
high and it hangs almost useless from the wrist. 

At this point, as Dana had hoped, Tony was mopping his brow clumsily 
with his bad hand. First the purple scar was unveiled by the downward 
swipe of the white linen and then in his nervousness, the prisoner dropped 
the cloth and his humped hand shook nervously until he held it firmly 
with the other one. The Judge stared at it in horror. Dana came to him and 
spoke sharply. 

— Now sir. . . . But the Judge could not turn his eyes away. — Now 
sir, said Dana again, bringing his hands down with a disturbing thump 
on the bench. 

— This broken hand, this hump of bone in the midst, is the most notice- 
able thing in the identification of a slave. If that hand has lost its cunning, 
nobody hears it so soon and remembers it so well as the master. His right 
hand is the chief property his master has in him. Why does not Mr. Brent 
or the record allude to it? If Mr. Brent does know Anthony Burns of 
Richmond intimately, and has described him fully, the prisoner is not the 
man. That record is Mr. Brent on paper. His identification is his opinion. 
His opinion is influenced by the temper and motive and frame of mind of 
the witness. Remember, sir, the political excitement of the moment, the 
state of feeling between the North and South, the contest between the slave 
power and the free power. Remember this case is made a state issue by 
Virginia and a national question by the President. Every reading man in 
Virginia, with the pride of the old Dominion aroused in him, is turning 
his eyes to the results of this issue. This identification is made by a Vir- 
ginian, testifying against a Negro in Massachusetts, with every powerful 
and controlling motive in the country enlisted for his success. 

— Mr. Brent is shown a Negro, captured by the emissaries of an admin- 
istration pledged to enforce an unpopular law. Mr. Brent admits he is dark- 
complected and has two scars. That's near enough. He is not very clear on 
this point and a vagueness is an advantage in this instance. 

— But Mr. Brent is not vague about one fact. He knows that he saw 
this Anthony Burns in Richmond, Virginia, on the twentieth day of March 


last, and that he disappeared from there on the twenty-fourth. He persists; 
in saying he has made no mistake about this and I have no doubt he is 
right and honest in doing so. He did see Anthony Burns in Richmond, Vir- 
ginia, on the twentieth day of March and Anthony Burns was first missing 
from there on the twenty-fourth. But the prisoner was in Boston, earning; 
his living, through the entire month of March — from the first day for- 
ward. Of this your Honor cannot, on the proofs, entertain a reasonable 

— And for our proofs we have Mr. Jones and his book and his story, so 
full of details, with such minuteness of dates and names and places that it 
must stand fully impregnable or be shattered to pieces. The fullest test has. 
been tried and it has stood. 

— Mr. Brewer, of another race, has come forward and backed up Mr. 
Jones. Mr. Whittemore, a member of the City Council and a Director of 
the Mattapan Iron Works, has said he knows the man and saw him di- 
rectly after he returned from a trip, which set the date of March eighth 
firmly in his mind. 

— Mr. Culver, Mr. Putnam and Mr. Gilman, foreman, machinist and 
teamster, respectively, at the Iron Works, have written memoranda to» 
back up their testimony. Mr. Brown, one of the City Police, now on duty* 
recognized the prisoner as a man he had noticed before March tenth. Mr* 
Favor and Mr. Maddox remember this man and the time in which he 
came to them seeking employment. 

— On a question of identity, numbers are everything. One man may mis- 
take by accident, design or bias. Each man has his own mode and means 
and habits of observation and recollection. One observes one thing and one 
another. One sees him in one light or expression or position or action and 
another in another. Now if a considerable number of these independent 
observers combine on the same man, the chances of a mistake are lessened 
to an infinite degree. What other man could answer so many conditions, 
presented in so various ways? On point of time and place, too, each of 
these witnesses is an independent observer. These are not links in one 
chain, each depending on another. They are separate rays, from separate 
sources, settling on one point. 

This discourse fascinated the Judge. He wished that some of his pupils 
were in court to hear this clear lesson on identity. He had an impulse to 
ask Richard Dana to lecture to his class at Harvard in the fall. He saw one 
of his pupils sitting next to Mr. Whittemore and looked sharply at him to 
see if he was taking it in. Dana thought he was looking at Whittemore- 
Dana suspected the look contained some political meaning, that the Judge 

23 I 

was trying to reassure himself with a contact with one of his own class and 

— Mr. Whittemore, your Honor, in answer to a question from me, 
whether he was under the odium of being either a Free-soiler or an Aboli- 
tionist, said he was a Hunker Whig. The Counsel thought that this was an 
irrelevant question. I thought it was vital. Not that the political relations 
of Mr. Whittemore would affect your Honor's mind, but that shows the 
witness has no bias on our side. We are anxious not only that your Honor 
shall believe our evidence but that the public should justify you in so doing. 
And there is no fear but that the press and the public mind will be per- 
fectly at ease if it knows your Honor's judgment was founded in a fugitive 
slave case, in favor of the fugitive, on testimony of a man who has such a 
status as a Hunker Whig who is eke a trainband captain in a corps under 

Dana brought this out in a rather jovial, high-pitched joking tone, but 
the Judge sensed a deep insult underneath the suavity. Pitching me in 
there with my political bedfellows, he thought. Parker had a faint smile on 
his face at Dana's point. The Judge felt a twinge of anger take away his 
warmth toward Dana's skill and his half-formed invitation of a moment 
before was swept away in a gulf between them wider and deeper than 
the Charles itself. 

— Colonel Suttle puts his case resolutely and unequivocally on the testi- 
mony of Mr. Brent and the admissions of the prisoner. We have proved 
that the prisoner was here on the first and the fifth and the tenth and the 
eighteenth of March. We have destroyed the burden of proof. We have 
aroused a reasonable doubt. 

— By right I should not even mention the other point. It is clearly inad- 
missible. But as an aid to your Honor's judgment let me point out that the 
man was arrested suddenly, coming home at nightfall and hurried into 
custody by strange men in a strange place. Whether rightly or wrongly, he 
was claimed as a slave and his condition burst upon him in a flood of ter- 
ror. This was at night. You saw him the next day. You remember his 
stupefied and terrified condition. You remember his hesitation, his timid 
glance around the room, even when looking into the mild face of justice. 
How little your kind words reassured him! 

— Now, you are called upon to decide his fate upon the evidence of a 
few words, merely mumblings of assent or dissent. Perhaps the mere mov- 
ing of the head, one way or another, construed by Mr. Brent into assent or 
dissent, to questions put to him by Colonel Suttle. Put to him at the mo- 
ment the terrors of his situation first broke upon him. You have them on 


the recollections of one man and that man under incalculable bias. If he 
has misapprehended the prisoner in one respect, he may in another. In one 
respect we know that he has. Brent testifies that when Colonel Suttle asked 
him if he wanted to go back, he said that he did. This we know is not true. 

— The prisoner has denied it in every form. If he was willing to go back 
why did they not send to Coffin Pitts's shop and tell the prisoner that Colo- 
nel Suttle was at the Revere House and wanted him to return? No, sir, 
they lurked about the thievish corners of the streets and measured his 
height and his scars to see if he answered to the record and seized him by 
fraud and violence and hurried him into bonds and imprisonment. Some 
one hundred hired men, armed, keep him in this room dedicated to justice 
. . . making it a slave pen. One hundred and fifty bayonets of the regulars 
and fifteen hundred of the militia keep him without. If all that we see 
about us is necessary to keep a man who is willing to go back, pray sir, 
what shall we see when they shall get hold of a man who is not willing to 
go back? 

At this the spectators, who had been quiet during the whole of the 
speech, could contain themselves no longer. They cheered and clapped 
their hands, Free-soilers and Whigs. The Southern students cheered and 
even one or two of the Marshal's guard stamped their feet until they were 
angrily silenced by Louis Varelli. They were the only ones amenable to* 
discipline in this courtroom, for the Judge let the others roar on and lifted 
not a finger; and it was Richard Dana himself, more concerend than any- 
body there that the decorum of the court be maintained, who silenced 
them with an angry look and a wave of his hand. And even that was not 
enough to secure perfect order, so he took his seat and swerved around at 
them and waited, like a concert artist, for utter silence before he rose again 
to close his plea. 

— You recognized, sir, in the beginning, the presumption of Freedom. 
Hold to it now, as to the sheet anchor of your peace of mind as well as of 
his safety. If you commit a mistake in favor of the man, a pecuniary value, 
not great, is put at hazard. If against him, a free man is made a slave for- 
ever. If you have, on the evidence or on the law, the doubt of a reasoning 
and reasonable mind, an intelligent misgiving, I implore you, in view of 
the cruel character of this law, in view of the dreadful consequences of a 
mistake, send him not away with that tormenting doubt on your mind. It 
may turn to a torturing certainty. The eyes of millions are upon you. You 
are to do an act which will hold its place in the history of America, in the 
history of the progress of the human race. May your judgment be for lib- 
erty and not for slavery, for happiness and not for wretchedness, for hope 

2 33 

and not despair and maybe the blessing of Him that is ready to perish may 
come upon you. 

He was finished and so he sat. Ellis and Parker shook his hand with 
great esteem. There was no general demonstration this time. But there was 
a mass exhalation from tensed lungs. Then, too, the anticlimax of Counsel 
Thomas's argument was yet to come. Counsel Thomas was able and elo- 
quent and made much more money at his trade than Richard Dana. 

He rose to address the court, but he was not in the mood to match blow 
for blow with his opponent. He began by saying it was late and he would 
rather have a night's sleep before continuing. Dana objected to a recess and 
so Counsel Thomas said he would go on. 

— The Counsel for the defendant commenced his enclosing argument 
with some congratulations to the court, the Marshal and the City . . . and 
others. I have some congratulations to offer. To the Marshal, who has 
shown, in the discharge of his difficult task, firmness, prudence and kind- 
ness to the defendant. To the presiding judge, who has shown equal fair- 
ness and liberality to both sides. These and more, I congratulate that they 
are to be relieved from a service that they had entered into from a deep 
sense of duty and from which they could retire with a consciousness that 
the blood of the murdered man did not rest upon them. I, too, can con- 
gratulate the City of Boston, that order was supreme, that Faneuil Hall, 
the cradle of law as well as of liberty, was closed against the blasphemy of 
Almighty God, and to charges of murder done by this court . . . made a 
day or two since by one who, though not a lawyer, but claiming to be a 
minister of the gospel, has the assurance to come here within the bar and 
occupy a privileged seat. 

With this swipe at Parker, Thomas shot his bolt. He was tired and his 
feet hurt and he was not going to match himself against Dana on the 
speech. He cited again that it was a civil action to be based on two points. 
That the man owed service and labor, and that he escaped. And that the 
statute says that the owner may apply to any Court in Virginia and get a 
record of proof that the man owes service and, with further evidence, such 
as a witness for identification of the person escaping, can cause the man to 
be given up in any state in the Union. He heaped scorn on the defense wit- 
nesses, called their testimony manufactured in the routine legal way. 

— It is the law and it has been pronounced constitutional by the Supreme 
Court. Why shouldn't my client have the benefit of it? What sort of a law 
is that which, when practically applied to a state of facts, from being objec- 
tionable to a class of persons, fails to secure such rights? 

2 34 

— To secure these rights I leave these points, so arduously recapitulated, 
in your hands. I am not conscious of having said or done anything in the 
course of the examination that need have provoked personal hostility. My 
connection with the case has been strictly professional. The extraordinary 
bitterness of opposing counsel has not changed my purpose or my direct 
course. The record is conclusive of two facts: that the person owed service 
and escaped. That record, with the testimony of Brent and the admissions, 
proves the identity. I take leave of the case confident of the proof presented 
and confident in the majesty of the law, and confident that the determina- 
tion here will be just. . . . 

And so the examination was over. There would be no decision until Fri- 
day, because the Circuit Court would need the room for the next day. 

Richard Dana was acclaimed a hero and cheered from the door of the 
Courtroom to the Cambridge omnibus. He himself was pleased with his 
speech. He thought it was the best one he had ever made, and was sure 
that the case was won. Only one small doubt kept plucking at his soft and 
sunny mantle of joy. . . . He didn't take any notes, he thought. The Judge 
didn't take one note, during all of my speech. 

But that was only a few small potatoes in his harvest of triumph. 

2 35 


Thursday passed in the trough between the ninth wave and the big one 
coming. Richard Dana's speech lay like a lullaby on the angry hearts of 
the people, shutting out the thoughts of the wrath to come. John Au- 
gustus told it to his ragamuffin school on the steps of the Courthouse 
and the merchants at the Exchange on State Street vied with one an- 
other in trying to catch the longest flow of remembering. A petition to 
repeal the Slave Act had been circulating there under the hand of John 
Pierson, who had been its greatest supporter, and it had to be replaced 
again and again. 

Colonel Suttle felt the optimism driving through his guards and his 
barricades in the attic of the Revere House. He sent William Brent, with 
his hat pulled down and affecting a limp, to round up some fellow South- 
erners for a meeting in his rooms to rally his falling spirits. 

The news of the Colonel's distress soon reached the University and 
Moncure Conway was asked to go with the others to the Revere House to 
console and consult with the master of Anthony Burns. 

Conway did not feel that it was compromising his principles to attend 
the meeting. He had made up his mind not to be isolated from his neigh- 
bors and countrymen. He still felt he could inject moral suasion into their 

He was ashamed of the ColonePs hideout and offended by the odor of 
drinking and the feral, cavelike atmosphere of the quarters. The Colonel 
seemed crude and vulgar compared to the others, and his eyes were ringed 
with an unmanly red, almost as though he had been weeping. 

After the drinks had been handed around, the Colonel announced that 
he was going to take Burns back regardless of the Commissioner's decision. 
This was greeted with cheers and sage nods, for all of them had joined in 
the general belief that Dana's speech and the witnesses collected by Wen- 
dell Phillips would get the man off. Suttle said that Ben Hallett had told 


him that it was all right and that Colonel Cooper, sent up from Washing- 
ton by the President himself, would assist. 

Nobody believed the Colonel, who was quite drunk. Moncure was be- 
ginning to feel sorry for him in spite of himself. The Colonel said that 
Tony was a good boy, and it wasn't his fault that all this trouble had been 
stirred up. He blamed it on the Abolitionists and their desire to exploit a 
helpless Negro for their own ends. Moncure pondered this argument. It 
could be convincing when skillfully presented. At any rate, it was nice to 
be among this home talk for a change, and the Colonel remembered him 
and apologized for the little fracas they had a few years ago. Then a man 
named Dennis, from North Carolina, began to talk. He was at the Divinity 
School and lived next to Moncure. Moncure had scarcely heard him open 
his mouth before except to offer prayers in the chapel, so he was surprised 
to hear him become so voluble all of a sudden. 

— It's sheer hypocrisy to believe that they have any love for the nigras, he 
said in a fruity voice. — The arch-Abolitionist, Parker, really despises them. 

— He is ? He does, sure enough ? said the Colonel happily, rising out of 
his stupor. 

— Why certainly . . . Let me tell you a story about Parker. He has a 
church there at Brimstone Corner . . . That's what they call it because he's 
such a devil, I reckon. Well, suh . . . one of his better class of parishioners 
got mighty tired of all that Abolitionist trash, and he gave his pew to a big 
nigra. Well, suh ... in comes the darky on the next Sunday, dressed to 
the nines, and he takes a seat in his pew. Everybody moves away from him. 

The others laughed at this, following the story with great intentness. 

— The next Sunday, the pew door was locked, so he just stood there on 
his big feet while everybody moved as far as they could away from him. 
The next Sunday . . . He paused dramatically. — The door of the church 
was locked and a man came up to him and bought the pew back for foah 
hundred dollars. 

There was happy laughter all around at this story. But Conway didn't 
laugh and Dennis caught sight of his long face, striving to bear and for- 

— What's the matter, Conway ? Oh, I forgot, everybody. Parker is Con- 
way's ideal. 

— It's not true, that's all. 

— What do you mean, it's not true ? Do you think he loves the nigras 
like he says? At least I give the man credit for some intelligence. 

— I don't know whether he loves them or hates them. But I do know 
that his church isn't on Brimstone Corner, and that no one could buy a 


pew in his church because his church is in the Music Hall. There's no pews 
there at all. It's used for concerts during the week, and I've seen with my 
own eyes at least a hundred Negroes there, Sunday after Sunday. 

— Whose side are you on ? demanded Dennis. 

— I'm not taking sides, Moncure said. — But let's tell the truth about 

— Are you callin' me a liar? 

— Throw the nigger-lover out, came a voice from the rear of the room, 
and suddenly Moncure was ringed about with hard and threatening eyes. 

— Neighbors . . . Friends . . . Moncure said. — Let's face this thing 
honestly. I want to help both sides. We've lived together, worked together, 
prayed together. Can't we make things a little easier ? 

— Throw the nigger-lover out, came the voice, and Moncure felt himself 
roughly seized and thrust out of the door. 

After a brief struggle with his old loyalties, he went straight to Parker's 
house and told him there was a plot being developed to seize Burns and 
carry him off regardless of the outcome of the trial. 

Back in the hotel room, conversation lagged and the tears began to well 
again into the Colonel's bloodshot eyes. Then a message came for him to 
pack and be ready to go to the Navy Yard and board a Navy cutter there. 

— They're going to lynch me, he wailed. — I'll be lucky to get out of 
here alive! 

His hands shook as he picked his soiled clothes out of the clutter of bot- 
tles and debris that had gathered about his seclusion of the past few days. 

Parker asked Conway to stay awhile until he had written out a leaflet to 
cover the turn of events. They sat in the study with the door shut to keep 
the nasty cough that he developed since the mass meeting from disturbing 
the household, now all in bed. Conway turned over some of Parker's rare 
French and German books, which had climbed, on simple board shelves, 
from the formal study on the second floor up the stairways to the attic and 
down to the entrance hall. 

— Have you got a fair hand? Parker asked him. — My wife usually 
copies these things out for the printer, but she's gone to bed. 

— Tolerably fair, Moncure said. — I'd be very glad to copy it out and 
take it to the printer, if you wish. 

— I would wish. I seem to have a pain in my side. A little pleurisy, I 
guess, and something of a fever. 

— Would you like me to get a doctor for you ? 


— Oh, no, dear boy. It's nothing. Events like these always make me sick. 
Usually, it's my stomach. There's a good pen there. I'd better read you this 
thing. Don't bother about the spacing. Garrison will attend to that. 

— Perhaps you'd better let it wait until morning. It's almost eleven. 

— No. Garrison will get up if you knock on his door on the way to 
Cornhill. He's a regular fireman . . . sleeps with his anti-slavery boots on. 

— I was thinking of you, Mr. Parker. You should get some sleep with 
that fever and the cough. 

— My cough and fever should be the most of our troubles. I like to work 
at night. In the dead of night, I seem most alive. But the practical side of 
the matter is that the market men pick up our material on their early visits 
to Faneuil Hall and the Quincy Building and distribute them out among 
the towns on their way home. 

— Fire away, sir, Moncure said, his pen in hand. 

— Americans! Freemen! It has now been established out of the mouths 
of many witnesses that the poor prisoner now in the Slave Pen, Court 
Square, is not the slave of the kidnaper, Suttle. 

Moncure's pen faltered a little at this last. Parker watched him with 
amusement. Moncure looked up at him out of the corner of his eye and 
then looked down in embarrassment, spattering the sentence with exclama- 
tion marks. 

— You think he is, don't you, Mr. Conway ? Parker said. 

— I've always known Suttle to be a truthful man, Conway said. 

— Well, I've always known Richard Dana to be truthful and he says he 
isn't, Parker laughed. — Perhaps he isn't a slave in the Pickwickian or 
Garrisonian sense. Here we must lean on the exalted humbuggery of the 
higher law. What Jesuits we have become in these days of trouble. 

— Yes, sir. Now what comes after \idnaper, Suttle? 

— Commissioner Loring will doubtless so decide today! The spirit of 
our laws and the hearts within us declare that a man must not be tried 
twice for the same offense. 

— But will the victim be set free? Believe it not until you see it. The 
Fugitive Slave Law was framed with a devilish cunning to meet such cases. 
It allows that if one commissioner refuses to deliver up a man claimed as a 
slave to his pursuer, he may be ta\en before a second commissioner and a 
third, until someone is found base enough to do the deed. 

— Put this in capitals as a new heading. Hallett Is at Work. Burns 
will be seized again, have another moc\ trial and be forced away. See you 
to it. Let there be no armed resistance, but let the whole people turn out 
and line the streets and loo\ upon the shame and disgrace of Boston and 

2 39 

then go away and take measures to elect men to office who will better 
guard the honor of the state and capital. Per order of the Vigilance Com- 

Parker here was taken with a prolonged fit of coughing. He indicated 
to Conway that this was the end of the message and then pointed down- 
stairs and said he'd be back ... in a choked whisper. 

While he was gone, there was a great clatter on Essex Street and Con- 
way, at the window, could see a company of mounted Dragoons riding to 
the morning mobilization. The moonlight glittered on their polished gear 
and glowed soft on their gunmetal helmets. There were so many of them 
that he could hear the leather slapping and stretching on their plump 
horses and could smell the sweat. 

— They're all asleep, said Parker, coming back, — I have listened at their 
doors and can hear their breathing. . . . He crossed to join Conway at the 
window and shook his head at what he saw. — Dragoons in Boston streets. 
It's more like Berlin or Moscow. Well, there is to be a day of retribution 
for all this. Chastisement must come to us all. 

He lit a candle at his desk and motioned for Conway to follow him as 
he stepped out into the hallway and made for a narrow set of stairs leading 
to a skylight in the roof. 

— I never expected to hear you preaching Dies Irae, Mr. Parker, said 
Conway, following him. 

— I don't believe in a God of wrath, Conway. Logic alone will bring it 
on. The slaveholders will be driven by their logic to demand what the 
North cannot give. Then comes the split, not without blood. 

— What if the country doesn't split? 

Before answering him, Parker threw open the skylight and pushed him- 
self up to where he could sit on the roof. Conway joined him. The moon 
was almost sun-bright and they could see the long lines of mounted troops, 
helmets glittering in the night light, reaching back up Essex Street. Parker 
lifted the candle for a moment, looking intently over the roof and to the 
adjoining one. Then he blew it out. 

— What if a squad or two of those Hunker Cavalrymen did a right turn 
and galloped up to this house to arrest me for treason against the govern- 
ment ? What would you do, Conway ? Would you defend me ? Would you 
help me escape over the roofs? Would you hide me in your room at the 
Divinity School? 

— I'd do my best to help any innocent man. 

— But what if I weren't innocent? What if I had committed treason, 
according to their definition? Would you then? 


— I would have to hear you say your guilt from your own lips, sir. I 
wouldn't judge you by what others think. 

— What if I said that I was as guilty as your fellow Virginian, George 
Washington, was to his government? What if I said that the Revolution 
wasn't completed and more blood must be shed before we get it right? 

— I don't know what you're getting at, Mr. Parker, but I think I know 
enough about you to trust in what you do. 

Parker laughed. — You know very little about me. That leaflet you just 
copied out, for all you know, might be a signal for an armed uprising 
against these troops if Burns is not set free. 

A small cloud, riding like a swan against the moon, passed before it and 
suddenly everything got dark. Conway felt a sudden coldness too, as if the 
moon had stolen the sun's heat as well as its light and was now shut off. 

— Don't you think it's a little cold for you up here, Mr. Parker? . . . 
When you're not feeling well. 

Parker lit the candle again and took one last look at the sky and the roof. 
— That small cloud, he said. — It's like the one that was no bigger than a 
hand. Look at it now, shutting of! all our light. 

They went back into the study again. Conway wondered if Parker had 
expected him to make an affirmation of some kind. He picked up the leaflet 
positively, without reluctance. — I'll see that Mr. Garrison gets this. 

Parker opened the door ready to say good night. Conway lingered, trying 
to think of a prolonging theme. — I've been offered a church in the West. 
In Cincinnati. 

— Don't go West, Conway, regardless of Horace's advice. The apples are 
coarse and dry and the women have no bosoms. They are totally lacking in 
any glandular development whatsoever. 

Moncure left in embarrassment, wondering if his leg had been pulled. 

On this night, Edward Greely Loring, Judge of Probate and U. S. Com- 
missioner, sat alone in his study. He had spent the day on a drive into the 
country to avoid interruption from partisans of both sides of the question 
it was now his duty to decide. When he got back, he was surprised to hear 
that nobody had called. Now, sitting in abject loneliness with his lawbooks 
strewn about him, he devoutly wished for a caller, an interruption. And as 
he turned the problem over in his mind, he passed from a desire to be left 
alone into the wish to be bothered and pleaded with . . . and then even to 
be chivied and threatened. Then finally, he came full circle and wanted to 
cry out at this desertion. Where was the family in his hour of need? Where 


was the counsel of the Supreme Court Justice and George T.? The bell 
tinkled in the hall. The maid answered and then knocked quietly at the 
study door. He opened it to her and she handed him a package, carefully 
wrapped. He laid it on his desk and tore the paper nervously away. It was 
from Justice Curtis, and it was his Bible. He lifted the lid in wonder and 
there, interleaved at Luke XX lay, in a copperplate hand, a well-reasoned 
decision on the rendition of the slave Anthony Burns. 

Up in the jurors' room in the Courthouse that was Colonel Suttle's slave 
pen, the ruffians of the Marshal's guard were performing an ancient rite. 
They were adorning the victim for the sacrifice. They had bought Tony a 
suit of good, black broadcloth and he was trying it on with calmness and 
courtesy. They had grown quite fond of him while dwelling together with 
him. He was an easy man to live with, even-tempered and quiet. More 
than once, he had broken up quarrels between them over food or drink or 
winnings from their interminable card game. And he had performed this 
delicate office with finesse, not letting anyone lose face in the process. 

They had brought him a banjo and asked him to sing and dance like the 
stage darkies, and he had laid it aside, unoflended, and with a forgiving 
smile. After the first days had passed, he had eaten with them, and when 
they persisted in asking him for a song, had hummed a few hymns and 
spoken some of the simple elegies of his race. That he was hunted, and be- 
yond the pale, made him consonant with them, and they all agreed with a 
nod of their heads that he had lived up to the highest requirement put 
upon a black man. He had kept his place. 

This night was like a circus night to the boys of Boston. They sat sleepy- 
eyed on the curbstones watching the detachments arrive. The market men 
unloaded their strawberries and took on their barrels of fish. The small 
boys were begging for milk and hooking it if denied, armed with their own 
jugs, swiped from the pantry in the dark, cool hours. They played tag and 
chased each other through the fires and under the hairy hoofs and champ- 
ing mouths of the horses and strewed rubbish all over the cobblestones, 
trying to provoke the teamsters and stall keepers to chase them up and 
down the alleys with barrel staves. Some of the men gave them leaflets to 
spread, and they began to whiten the streets up to the Courthouse. 

The square-capped printers in Pie Alley ate their breakfasts, prepared to 
work around the clock, throwing oil edition after edition, as the news grew 
and split and grew again. 

At seven, just after the sun had cleared the horizon over the mole, four 


horses swept into Court Square with a brass cannon shining like a sunbolt, 
followed by Horse Marines from the Navy Yard. The boys came running 
up from the market and stood entranced, and the soldiers loaded and re- 
loaded it with powder and a real ball. 

General Edmands ran excitedly into police headquarters with a procla- 
mation from the Mayor. He slammed it down on Chief Taylor's desk and 
said gleefully: 

— Here is the only order yet drawn up under which the military can 
legally act: 


To the Citizens of Boston: 

To secure order throughout the city this day, Major General Edmands 
and the Chief of Police will make such disposition of the respective forces 
under their commands, as will best promote that important object, and 
they are clothed with full discretionary powers to sustain the law of the 

All well-disposed citizens and other persons are urgently requested to 
leave the streets and under no circumstances to obstruct or molest any 
officer, civil or military, in the lawful discharge of his duty. 

The general left out the Mayor's name at the end. He looked sternly at 
Chief Taylor, who had remained seated during the spirited delivery. Chief 
Taylor got awkwardly to his feet and, feeling like a fool with his men, 
some of whom were lounging on benches just outside watching him, 
saluted the general. 

The general clicked his heels, saluted and then walked over to the re- 
cumbent policemen. 

— Get up, you fools, he said. — It's martial law. 

He ran quickly up the stairs, got on his horse and galloped up to the 
Common, where the entire force was to be mustered after gathering at 
their respective armories. The boys, swarming like bees, ran after him. 

Mayor Smith came to see the Chief with his arms full of the proclama- 
tions. — Get these posted up wherever possible, he said. — I don't think 
they'll do a hell of a lot of good. 

He straightened his long neck with a jerk as he saw Ben Hallett coming 
down the stairs with the Adjutant General of the United States Army. Ben 
was smiling happily. He had one more humiliation to press upon the good 

— Your Honor. Colonel Cooper has just made a very excellent sugges- 
tion, and I concur with him a hundred per cent. He recommends that the 


police force alone be used to keep the crowds back. This will be done as 
follows . . . Well, perhaps you'd better explain, Colonel. 

— Well, suh, said the Colonel, — I don't like to have the soldiers pressin' 
directly on the civilians. Some of the boys are a mite quick-triggered and 
there's no tellin' what might happen if one of these Northern crackpots gits 
gay or makes some insultin' or slurrin' remark to the flag or to the uniform. 
The city police force will push the crowds back at all intersections, and 
after they're in back of the line, the military will take up positions there 
under arms. 

— What if the crowd resists ? said the Chief. 

— The procedure will then be as follows, said the Colonel. — If the mob 
does not yield to the police procedure, each officer will swing back right 
and left, and that will be a signal to the military to open fire. 

The Mayor gulped, and mumbled: — This is all irregular. The Commis- 
sioner hasn't even given his decision yet. I still think you lost the case, Ben. 

— Then why have you had these proclamations printed up beforehand? 
said Ben blandly. 

— You've had your orders, Chief, said the Mayor angrily. — Carry them 

He ran up the stairs and went back to sit glowering in his office. 

The Chief didn't blame the Mayor for losing his temper. Ben had handed 
the Mayor the dirty end of the stick, and now all the odium of the rendi- 
tion was to fall on the city. 

Up on the Common, the dust clouds were rising to the adjoining roof- 
tops as General Edmands tried to muster and drill his brigade. The 
Dragoons got in the way of the Artillery, and the Infantry sat on the grass 
refusing to move about until they had sent the horses over to the other 
end of the field. 

Knapsacks were emptied of cartridges and filled with bottles and as the 
morning wore on and the sun got hot and high, there was more reeling 
than wheeling by the marching volunteers. Here and there among them 
were veterans of the Mexican War, and they sang songs about tequila and 
the easy virtue of the women south of the Rio Grande. 

At nine o'clock the bell tolled from the Courthouse tower. Commis- 
sioner Loring put on his robe and walked from the chambers to the bench. 

The guards had been tripled everywhere in the Courthouse. Tony 
walked to his seat with the hands of four people resting on his new suit. 

The courtroom was hushed as the Judge took his seat. Never had he 


felt so useless and absurd. Every guard and every soldier in the Court- 
house and throughout the city was silently saying to the people, I am 
making the decision. Would I be here if I weren't? 

As he looked at them and began to read the long document ... it was 
over seven written pages ... he continually looked up from the page, let- 
ting the words fall carelessly from his mouth, not thinking of them but, 
instead, playing a bitter double role with his brain and entrails. 

I know you all . . . he wanted to say . . . and can catalogue you thus: 
office seekers, pimps, murderers, malignants, conspirators, contractors, 
Custom House clerks, kept editors, slave catchers, creatures of the Presi- 
dent, spies, bribers, compromisers, spongers, gamblers, carriers of concealed 
weapons, deaf men, diseased men, from the Custom House, the post office, 
the Marshal's office, and their back yards, the whorehouses, the jails, and 
the almshouses. But I cannot fight you because you have struck hands 
with the South and with those in the highest places and we are helpless 
in your grip. . . . 

He turned over the last page and said, — And therefore the evidence of 
Mr. Brent and its confirmation by Mr. True has satisfied my mind beyond 
a reasonable doubt of the identity of the respondent with the Anthony 
Burns named in the record. On the law and facts of the case, I consider 
the claimant entitled to the certificate from me which he claims. 

There was an unbroken silence while the Judge folded his manuscript 
and went away. Then Richard Dana went to Marshal Freeman and said, 
— May Mr. Grimes and I accompany the prisoner to the boat? 

— All right, said the Marshal, too distraught to argue. — But don't ex- 
pect him to be ready right away. 

Parker shook Anthony's hand and went out. Mr. Grimes told him that 
he and Dana were going to march down to the dock with him. Anthony 
nodded. He had expected it to come out this way. He was he. He knew 
it and the Lord knew it. It didn't do any good to say that he wasn't. 

A courier brought the news up to the Common that the decision had 
been given. None of the officers asked what it was, but shouted for their 
men to fall in for the march to the Courthouse. 

The Mayor was stumped. He had really thought up to the last minute 
that the slave would be freed, and that he would be taken off the hot 
spot ordained for him by recent history. He ran panic-stricken to the police 
headquarters and buttonholed the Chief. — Clear the square! . . . Clear 
the street! ... he said excitedly. — What are you doing here anyway? 

— What is your plan, sir? What streets shall I clear? Where is the man 
going from ? 


— Long Wharf . . . down State Street to Long Wharf. Get a map! . . . 
Where's a map? 

The Chief had one on his desk. — Hold them back here . . . here . . . 
here . . . here . . . here . . . gobbled the Mayor, drawing a heavy black 
line across each intersection with a heavy black pencil. — And it's got to 
be done before the soldiers get here from the Common. Remember what 
the Colonel said about the flag. 

He started to run up the stairs to the street and then stumbled. He took 
the opportunity to turn around and clarify further. — Someone might 
insult it, he said gravely. 

The Chief nodded. 

— I'm going out and see them load the cannon, said the Mayor. — I 
might as well get a little fun out of this. 

The Chief sat wearily looking first at the map and then at the list of 
his men. There was only one of them who could carry out this task with- 
out antagonizing the people. 

He went to the door and said, — Ask Captain Hayes to step in here. 
And you might as well tell the other captains to come with him. 

When they filed in, he locked the door carefully and said, — I want you 
men to take Captain Hayes's direction in this matter of keeping the lines 
clear to Long Wharf, where they are going to take the prisoner. Captain 
Hayes will take a squad of men to each of these intersections marked on 
the map. As soon as the crowd is in order, the soldiers will take up their 
positions. But at all times, there must be policemen between the crowd 
and the military. 

— What if . . . started one of the captains. 

Chief Taylor said in a set tone, — If they give you any trouble, or get 
violent, turn back and swing right and left. This is a signal for the soldiers 
to fire on the crowd. Remember. Captain Hayes is to set up the squad 
first at each intersection before the other captains take over. Do you under- 
stand, Captain Hayes? 

— No, Chief. I don't understand. I thought we were told to have noth- 
ing to do with returning the fugitive. 

— We're keeping law and order, Captain. 

— It looks to me like we're helping to carry of? Burns. 

The other captains murmured agreement. Before the Chief could reply, 
there was a mild pounding on the door. When he opened it, the Mayor 
almost fell to the floor in his haste. 

— I've just talked to the Commissioner and he says to see that the square 
and avenues are cleared. 


Captain Hayes spoke up again. — The Commissioner gives orders to the 
Mayor, the Mayor to the Chief of Police, the Chief of Police to the cap- 
tains, the captains to the men, the men to the people ? I see this as a strong 
chain binding us to the act of the rendition. 

— We'll discuss this later. You'd better get out there, said the Chief. 

— No, sir. I'm resigning. I refuse to have anything to do with this. 

— Oh, no, cried the Mayor. — That will spoil everything ... all our 
plans. It's not me, you know. This came from Colonel Cooper and he 
came from the White House. 

Captain Hayes sat at the desk and began to write out, on the back of 
one of the maps, another document to be added to the dossier of the Burns 

As he wrote, the Mayor threatened and cajoled him, going so far as to 
offer him the job held by Chief Taylor. But Hayes went on in a firm 
script : 

Through all the excitement attendant upon the arrest and trial of 
the fugitive by the United States government, I have not received an 
order which I have considered inconsistent with my duties as an 
officer of the police until this day, at which time, I received an order 
which if performed, would implicate me in the execution of the in- 
famous Fugitive Slave Bill. I therefore resign the office which I now 
hold as Captain of the Watch and Police . . . from this hour . . . 
eleven o'clock. 

— Eleven o'clock, wailed the Mayor after reading through to the end. 
— Send someone out there, Taylor. 

— I have no other captain capable of handling this situation, said the 
Chief, not too displeased. 

— What will we do? 

— That is your problem, your Honor. You worry about it. The police 
will make any necessary arrests if there are individual acts of violence ac- 
cording to the city ordinances. That's all. 

The Mayor started to speak again. 

— Do you want another resignation ? said the Chief. 

As fast as they could be printed, papers carrying the news of Hayes's 
strange actions were put out into the streets, and sold like hotcakes. 

It fell upon Captain Isaac Wright of the Light Dragoons to handle the 
crowd. General Edmands had given him this detail, after an agonized 

2 47 

message from the Mayor, for two reasons. Number one, he was a former 
Regular Army man and had served as a fellow officer in Mexico with 
Franklin Pierce. Number two, he was an auctioneer by trade and had the 
loudest bellow in Boston. He was the worse choice possible for the task, 
however, because he was drunk and had just led his troop in singing 
"Carry Me Back to Old Virginny," which they kept up all the way down 
to Court Square. 

On the Common, the troops had been cheered by the small boys stand- 
ing happily to watch them, but down on Court Street, they were greeted 
with thunderous boos and catcalls. As each detail was dropped off at the 
intersections of State Street, dead cats, manure and clouds of pepper were 
thrown at them. Opposite the Courthouse itself, the office windows of the 
Commander of the Ancient and Honorables was draped in black. Flags 
were hanging at half mast in all the offices and beyond the old State House 
was suspended a black coffin. On it was painted The Funeral of Liberty. 
Everywhere, there were people ... so many people that the thousand 
soldiers, the entire brigade, stood like mere pebbles against an incoming 

From eleven to twelve, the soldiers pushed against the tide. Several 
times, the Lancers and the Dragoons, the mounted troops, drew their 
sabers. Two men were cut on the hands with them for hissing and crying 
Shame! One, a businessman by the name of A. L. Haskell, held up his 
bleeding hand and asked the officer his name and business. — Captain 
Evans, said the citizen volunteer, — and my business is to kill such damn 
rascals as you. 

A man named John Milton had his head laid open by a saber and was 
taken to the hospital. The footsoldiers, seeing the effect of this firmness on 
the crowd and stimulated by the smell of blood, set upon a little man 
named Ela, who was crossing the street, carrying his cat to get Tabby out 
of danger, beat him on the head with their muskets, knocked him down 
on the pavement and cut his face and had him taken off to the Watch- 

The only victory of the civilians was scored by Mr. Jones, the late wit- 
ness for Burns, who clung to Captain Wright's stirrup and poured out 
a stream of abuse on him . . . calling him a seller of chamberpots and 
implying that he had turned his insides into a utensil of the same nature. 
Captain Wright, trying vainly to dislodge him, lunged out too far and 
fell on his head on the cobblestones. Mr. Jones was then arrested and 
locked up for disturbing the peace and committing assault and battery on 
the person of Isaac Wright, Auctioneer. 

2 4 8 

With the fall of his champion, who was borne bleeding and beaten on 
his good steed to the Courthouse steps, General Edmands surrendered 
and, turning his portfolio, or in this case the first copy of the Mayor's 
proclamation, over to Colonel Cooper, he repaired to the Mayor's office and 
joined His Honor in a long drink. 

Colonel Cooper, having had enough of this nonsense, ordered the can- 
non to be loaded with powder and grape shot and a match held to the 
breech as it was pointed directly at the crowd. They gave way. The 
Marines were ordered out of the building and they were lined up double- 
quick in the square and their muskets inspected, and then fired into the air- 
Additional supplies of ammunition were served out to them and they 
began to mark time, wheel, and make formations. 

The Marshal ran upstairs to the jury room and told Butman and Riley 
to get Burns ready. He ordered handcuffs put on him, but Butman talked 
him out of it. Tony had just told Butman that he would go quietly with- 
out struggling if they didn't put him in chains. 

The Marshal went downstairs to tell Colonel Cooper all was ready. He 
saw Richard Dana and said, — I'm sorry, Dana, but you've got to let me 
off on that promise I made you about walking to the ship with Burns. 

— Certainly not, Dana said. — You can't let the man go through this 
without a single friend at his side. 

— Have to, said the Marshal vaulting up the stairs again. In the room, 
amongst the hurried preparations, Caleb Page and Ben True gave Tony 
four dollars and said that they were sorry. Tony took the money without 

They took his arm and walked him downstairs to the door of the Court- 
house. The crowd gave a great roar as they saw him. 

Colonel Cooper set up the formation quickly. National Lancers were 
to go first, followed by the Artillery . . . Then a corps of Marines . . . 
Then a hollow square of special officers, the Marshal's posse comitatus 
carrying short Roman swords, and in the middle would be Marshal Free- 
man, and his special deputies and the prisoner. 

Behind them would be another corps of Marines followed by the cannon, 
which would be pointed at the crowd in back and protected by another 
corps of Marines. 

So they set off down past the old State House. No bands were allowed 
to play and the flags were hanging limp from their standards. 

An old radical who had brought one of the blind boys from Dr. Howe's 
school to feel the disgrace brought on the city described it to him: 

— It's a great company of butchers. Not the ones with white coats that 

2 49 

kill the beef, but human butchers with parti-colored suits. Usually they 
make a kind of savage music by blowing on brazen pipes and beating on 
hollow drums. Some of them are on horses, but they ride them sideways 
so that they can kick the people. 

— Why are there so many butchers, Grandfather? asked the blind boy. 

— They are all assembled to slaughter a little black lamb being carried 
in the middle of their procession. People want to save it from the butchers, 
who have hateful-looking iron things in their hands, tipped with knives. 
And some of them have long knives over three feet long and shining 
in the sun. 

— So many butchers for one little black lamb? wondered the boy. 

Tony was human and he got a little inverted pleasure out of the pomp 
brought on by his return to Virginia. He had been told by the guards to 
walk straight and show off his new suit and he did. Even a man ridden 
out of town on a rail gets a little thrill out of being so singled out from all 
of his contemporaries. Or as the story goes ... if it warn't for the honor, 
he'd rather walk. 

As he drew abreast of the Custom House, the cortege slowed down a 
bit and Tony saw a comely colored girl gazing at him with her soft eyes. 
He straightened up and threw out his chest. She looked straight at him 
and spoke . . . loudly: 

— How could he do it? Why doesn't he take one of those swords and 
strike it into his heart rather than be carried off like this ? She bowed her 
head and sobbed wildly. And that was the end of Tony's faint glow of 

As she sobbed, another woman shrieked . . . and at this moment, Cap- 
tain Wright's Lancers, piqued at the defeat of their captain, left off their 
guard and swung headlong into the rear of the actual procession. Then 
Captain Evans felt that his troops should have a similar honor and rode 
quickly down the next street to catch up. 

The crowd, thinking to save Boston some little measure of disgrace, 
swarmed into the street to block off the Volunteers from the end of the 

The Dragoons went wild, trying to get their horses through. Then, 
finding themselves blocked, they rode down the people with rage, push- 
ing them against buildings and down cellarways as they cursed and sawed 
at the horses' bridles. 


The trained troops under Colonel Cooper moved sedately on, not even 
turning around to see the debacle behind them. 

The steamer John Taylor, secured at the wharf by Ben Hallett's guile, 
was ready to accept the prisoner and his party and bring them out into 
the deep shipway in the Harbor to be put on the government cutter. 

At the edge of the wharf, the Volunteers took up a stand and stood with 
their pistols cocked. Captain Evans dared all to cross the line at their peril. 
He was booed past endurance. Colonel Cooper came back from the ship's 
gangplank and ordered Captain Evans to have his men uncock their pis- 
tols and take their bead off the crowd. This was done after a deal of blun- 
dering. The Colonel called Captain Evans a fool and told him he might 
have precipitated a slaughter. 

Burns was taken directly on board and to the cabin, but the steamer 
could not set sail at once. It was an hour before they could get the cannon 
on board. And as they struggled with the reluctant brass, the crowd had 
a field day. Captain Evans sat his horse with his hands folded across his 
chest, damned if he'd do any more for an ungrateful nation. 

Hamilton Willis and Mr. Kerr made a final attempt to purchase Tony. 
Kerr had been rowed out to the cutter to talk with the Colonel, who had 
been on it since the previous night. But he was not allowed aboard and 
came back to the wharf saying, — They'll sell him when he gets to Vir- 
ginia. He's now in the hands of the United States Government. 

Mr. Willis told this to Mr. Grimes . . . this being the fourth attempt. 
They had offered the money in the morning, after the decision was given 
and Burns acknowledged a slave, and now again, after he had been suc- 
cessfully removed from Massachusetts soil. — What do they want of the 
man now that they have destroyed his honor and violated his person? 
asked Mr. Grimes. 

— In Richmond, said Mr. Willis, in an unbrokerish outburst, — they're 
going to have a state banquet and drink his blood. 

The John Taylor cut loose from the wharf and slid out into the deep 
Harbor. The last thing the citizens of Boston saw was the mouth of the 
brass cannon pointed at their heads. In midstream, Tony was put on the 
cutter and there joined in legal but unholy labor-lock with his master. 
Officiating at the rites was Marshal Freeman, who left shortly after on the 
pilot sloop. Asa Butman gave the slave away and Pat Riley was the best 
man. Both of them planned to accompany the happy pair on their honey- 
moon to the lovely city of Richmond, Virginia. 


Outside the Harbor, the John Taylor unleashed itself from the cutter, 
swung around in the foam of its own boiling and started back to the 
Navy Yard. The sun sent a final glancing, brazen salute from the can- 
non on the deck into the sad eyes of Anthony Burns, leaning on the aft 
rail. A cold breeze came between him and the town where the heat was 
dancing and he began to walk aimlessly around the deck. The sailors, 
bunched up in work groups or lounging in an off watch, looked curi- 
ously at him and whispered to each other. 

At first, as he moved around, he steered wide of them, hoping that 
they would get used to the sight of him and turn away; but wherever 
he stood, he could feel their eyes on his back. He could not go below 
because the Colonel and his party were lurking there and he was afraid 
that when the Colonel saw him he would be put in irons. He stood for 
a while at the bow, letting the rough spray hit his face. He did not think 
deeply on what had passed or if he had done right or wrong in accepting 
a defense. He thought of what the Colonel would say when he faced 
up to him. He was nervous and tense about the inevitable interview 
and planned his answers. He was going to answer softly all the Colonel's 
imprecations and then tell him that when he had been hired out by 
Millspaugh he had made around twenty-five dollars a month, and that 
he could realize three hundred dollars a year for the Colonel and in time 
make up to him all the money he had spent on the rendition. He could 
see the Colonel tugging weakly at his billy-goat beard as he weighed the 
offer. He could see him finally accepting. 

These reflections made him easy in his mind and he began to want 
the talk to come quickly. He turned around and looked at the com- 
panionway, tempted to go in on his own and force the climax. 

Some sailors were sitting and smoking on the companionway roof. 
As he walked over to it, one of them, a tall handsome light-skinned 
farmerlike boy jumped down and stood beside him as though to accost 
him. The farmer boy smiled broadly with his white teeth. Tony looked 
sullenly at him thinking that there was mockery there. The others were 
smiling too. 

— You're going to get it, said the farmer boy. 

Somehow the words seemed to have no sting in them and as Tony 
looked questioningly into his eyes he saw a kind of companionship in 
them. As the others laughed he saw that their grins were not wolfish 
but understanding, and he felt an unfamiliar tug of kinship and identi- 
fication. It was faint but enough to keep him from going into the cabin 
and hoss-trading with the Colonel. It was enough to make him pass 


closely to the other sailors and smile shyly at their nods of recognition 
that came as he looked them directly in the face as a celebrated person 
should. Then he grew so much at ease that one of the sailors gave him 
a rope end to hold while he picked up a belaying pin from where it had 
fallen on the deck. 

Just after sundown a wonderful smell came from the galley stovepipe. 
The cook was frying ham for the Colonel. A huge one had been sent 
aboard as a farewell gift from the Southern boys at the University. Tony 
wondered how he was going to be fed. It was another uncertainty to 
plague him. Since he had got on the cutter the only word spoken to him 
was the meaningful phrase of the farmer boy. He guessed they were 
going to treat him like a naughty dog, ignore him but let him have the 
run of the place and forage for himself. 

He had just made up his mind to buy some supper from a sailor with 
the money Butman had given him when the cabin boy, passing back 
to the galley with an empty plate, told him he was wanted below. 

When he stepped into the cabin, the Colonel, Brent, Riley and Asa 
Butman were sitting around the supper table. — Set down, Butman said, 
— and have some ham and slump. 

Brent looked up with a startled expression and when he saw Butman 
actually pulling out a chair for Tony to sit on, he got quickly to his feet 
leaving half a helping of food on his plate. The Colonel got up too, not 
so hastily but still as if the seat had got hot. 

— Set down for God's sake, said Butman. — Don't stand there gapin'. 
Tony sat gingerly in the seat looking at Butman in wonder. Pat Riley 

went on eating as if nothing strange was going on at all. The cabin 
boy brought in another platter of ham and potatoes and an iron pot of 
apple slump, and Butman slid a generous helping onto Tony's plate. 

Tony ate uncomfortably, not daring to raise his eyes from the plate to 
look at the Colonel and Mr. Brent. 

— This ain't up to the grub we gave you at the Courthouse, Butman 
said, chomping noisely on a mouthful of ham fat. 

— No, sir, Tony said. 

— Oyster stew an' all. You et good. Damn good. Look at Riley, jeered 
Butman. — His ole lady won't feed him fer a month when he gits back. 

Riley looked up at him with expressionless eyes and swept the remain- 
ing ham and potatoes onto his plate. 

When Butman pushed his plate away and lit up a cigar, the Colonel 
stepped behind Tony and put both hands on his shoulders. Tony cringed 
a bit, not knowing what to expect. 


— This boy, he said to Butman, — was always an honest upright serv- 
ant and I have never known him to tell a lie. 

Butman nodded his head sagely in agreement and offered Tony one 
of his twisted black cigars, which Tony declined. 

— Now, Tony, the Colonel said removing his hands. — I want you to 
tell me the name of the captain of the ship you came North on. 

— I don't know his name, said Tony truthfully. 

— You're a liar, shouted the Colonel angrily. — There's no use trying 
to shield him. We'll find out anyway. 

Tony looked up at him helplessly. 

— I'm blamin' him more'n I am you, son, said the Colonel. — I know 
you was tempted. How much did you pay him? 

— Nothin', said Tony. 

— Don't do it, boy, said the Colonel. — Don't perjure yourself. We're 
not blamin' you at all. We respect you as truthful. Who was it? 

Tony shook his head sadly. 

— These facts are important to us. More so than you. So important 
I'm willing to give you your freedom right now . . . hail a ship and 
send you back to Boston ... if you tell me his name. 

— I don't know, said Tony hopelessly. 

Suddenly Butman brought his fist down on the table and the dishes 
clattered. But Tony turned and gave him a look full of innocence. 

— If I knew the scoundrel, mumbled the Colonel lamely, — he wouldn't 
want to bring off another nigra. 

— I'd see the bastard hanged, said Butman. — We'll smell him out 
when we git to Richmond if I have to cork up and hang around the docks 

Tony got up and went to the companionway. He turned suddenly to 
the Colonel. — Master Charles. What are you going to do with me? 

— What do you think I ought to do ? said the Colonel slowly. 

— I expect you will sell me? 

The Colonel didn't answer this but turned his back and Tony went 
up to the deck again. 

— I can't figure that one out at all, said Butman. — If I was in his 
shoes and I got that offer, I'd give a name. Even if I didn't know the real 
guys I'd make one up. I'd give my own grandfather's to git out of the 
hole he's in. 

— Always been a truthful boy, the Colonel murmured. — Goes to the 
same church I go to. He wouldn't care to lie to me. 


There was a ceremonial banquet given that night in Faneuil Hall for 
the citizen soldiery. A fine place was made at the toastmaster's table 
for the United States District Attorney. Ben declined it and sat quietly 
near the door, eating little and saying scarcely a word. Before the toasts 
and the rolling oratory of triumph began, he left the hall. 

He did not want the event to end in the promiscuous flattery of a 
banquet watered down with the swigging of a glass of port to this one 
and that one, from the President to the Corporal of the Pulaski Guards. 
He wanted it to end in the person of one man ... in Ben Hallett, as 
it had begun. 

He made his way slowly over to the office in the Courthouse. There 
he wrote out his final dispatch and signed it with his name alone: 

The Commissioner has granted the certificate. Fugitive has 
been removed. law reigns. 

He studied it a moment and read it aloud. It seemed to have. just the 
right Caesarean terseness and balance. But then his old politician's in- 
stinct came back on him and he added a line that would do him no harm 
in the capital. 

Colonel Cooper's arrival opportune. 

But when he came out of the inner office to go to the telegraph, he 
saw with mingled anger and dismay, that Nick Queeny was sitting 
there, waiting for him. Queeny had been invited to the banquet, Ben 
had seen to it, and there was no reason now for him to be sitting there 
with his hand out. He turned a quarter away from him, longing to give 
him the full cut and walk away without a word. But his politician's 
voice spoke silently again and said: This man is on your back from now 
on. He was joined to you in the ceremony just past. You cannot dare to 
cast him off. You must use him, for now he will never leave off trying 
to use you. . . . 

Nick stood up and grinned wolfishly. His long neck was arched like 
a bow and his bulging Adam's apple seemed to be pointed at Ben's breast. 

— Well, Queeny, Ben said, — I guess that's a job well done. 

— Yes, sir. 

— The Marshal will be back in a while to pay you off. 

— It's not all over, is it, Mr. Hallett? said Queeny in a kind of confi- 
dential hiss. 

— It is as far as this office is concerned. 

— I was thinking about the murder of Batchelder . . . 


— That's not the concern of the United States Attorney, Queeny. That's 
up to the County Prosecutor, Mr. Sanger. 

Queeny rested his head on the back of his shoulders. His corded neck 
was now like a V. — I understand there's a lot of talk about it at Wash- 
ington city. Someone has introduced a bill to pay the widow a pension. 
And there's talk about taking action against Parker and the rest. 

— We've got no basis against Parker. We can't prove connection be- 
tween the meeting and the attack. 

— Are you going to try to ? 

— I'm closing the case, Queeny; I've made my point. 

— I thought that where the murdered man was working for you, work- 
ing for the Federal government, you would . . . 

— Leave no stone unturned, Mr. Queeny? Yes, yes. I understand your 
position, Mr. Queeny, but we've got no more money to pay for special 
deputies if that's what you're thinking. 

Ben looked Queeny hard in the face. The man was gnawing at his 
edifice of triumph. The fear returned that he was a spy sent from Wash- 
ington to check on his loyalty to the Party. But all he could see behind 
the brick-red face was sad pale eyes below a brow etched with the ques- 
tioning wrinkles of ambition. 

— I've got a message for Jake, Ben said craftily. — Would you like to 
come along with me ? Jake was the operator at the government telegraph 
office. Ben studied him to see if he knew this, but the pale eyes stayed 
blankly in a palpable fraud of knowing. 

— Yes, sir, said Queeny. — I guess I have nothing else to do. About the 
Custom House, Mr. Hallett . . . 

— Nothing right now, Ben said. — But let's wait a few days on that. 
Now that this is over I might be able to find something for you. Come 
along and we can talk about it on the way. They walked in silence to 
the telegraph office and Nick went in with the message. When he came 
out Ben told a hack driver to take him home the long way, past the Mill 
Pond, so that he could have a talk. 

Nick finally broke the silence. — I'd still like to write a piece about you. 
Ben grunted in deprecation. He shuddered inside at the thought of be- 
ing memorialized in Queeny's slack-jawed style. 

— Have you any material at home I could use, speeches and things? 

— Perhaps it would be better at this time, Mr. Queeny, if you made 
up a collection of newspaper clippings. I'd like to send them to the Presi- 
dent. I think we could carry you on the books a few days on that basis. 

Ben heard Nick give a pettish click with his tongue against the roof 


of his mouth. It was just loud enough to prod Ben into a rage of dislike 
against him. He no longer felt like gloating audibly to Queeny's fawning 
ears. . . . All he sees in me is a steady job, thought Ben. To tell him how 
I put down what amounted to a rebellion would be casting pearls. . . . 

He wished he knew a few Unitarians to chivy a bit in his triumph. 
They had swamped the city during the first week of the trial. He'd tell 
them what good all their high talk and principles were against brute 
force. . . . When they see a position is going to stir up violence they drop 
it. — A plague on both their houses! they whine, and go back to read- 
ing their Plato. They don't believe in saints and miracles any more and 
so they don't believe in martyrs either. Its all vulgar display to them. 

At this point, Queeny, who was beginning to feel himself a martyr, 
let out a long tortured sigh. 

Ben was getting fed up to the teeth with this lachrymose and accusing 
presence there beside him. He's a leech, an old man of the sea, I suppose 
I'll have him standing around with his hand out for the rest of my life, 
he thought. Oh, how I'd love to open the door and pitch him out on 
his ear! 

He lurched suddenly to Queeny's side of the hack and let down the 
window as far as it could go. The clear quiet air of dusk smelled acrid 
and he could see a fire on the Common. There was a crowd standing 
by it and boys leaping and dancing with excitement. The hack driver 
slowed down to get a look, and Ben, who had begun to cough violently, 
leaned forward, handkerchief in hand, to urge the man to go faster. 

— Holy Mother of God! said the hackey, pulling the horse to a dead 
halt, — is that a hanging going on over there? 

Ben looked out of the window and he could see three dark forms 
swaying in the smoke. With a heave he thrust open the door and clam- 
bered out, with Nick close behind. 

— This is what I have been dreading all along, he said. — I've heard 
the truckmen threatening to take the law in their own hands. 

— I can't see any hanging, said Queeny. — It looks like they're only 
burning up the trash. 

— Trash it may be, said Ben. — There are three bodies hanging from 
the limb of that big elm. 

Ben began booting his way over the spiky grass, swinging his stick 
violently and mumbling about the rage of the people when they're aroused 
and the lack of discipline among the citizen soldiers. 

Nick now saw the horrible figures gently swaying on the ropes, their 
heads bowed by a hangman's knots. Ben fumbled in his pocket as he 


walked and thrust a huge clasp knife at Nick. — To cut them ... to 
cut them down, he said. 

As they drew nearer Nick began to have some doubts about the tragedy. 
The onlookers were standing at ease around the tree. He saw the flash 
of teeth in a smile as one turned to a man behind. Ben sensed it too and 
started to slow down. Two men detached themselves from the crowd 
and began to walk rapidly away. Nick was puzzled to see that they were 
city policemen. 

Ben began to walk slower and slower and finally he stopped. The 
people around the fire had turned to look at him. They were laughing. 

Ben half-turned, longing to retrace his steps. But then he walked on 
heavily with his head down. 

When he got close to the fire the crowd parted and he looked up. 

The three bodies were straw. Around their necks were signs: Judge 
Loring, Marshal Freeman . . . and Ben Hallett. 

Both stared in horror at the fetish of Ben. It had a ragged rowdyish 
slouched straw hat, draggled linen blouse, a greasy black tie pulled askew, 
snuff-colored trousers gaping at the knees, and a huge pair of cowhide 
boots of foxy red swinging restlessly over the fire. There was a sign — 
Hallett, Benedict Arnold on the hat. Another over his heart read Sol- 
dier of Fortune, and on his back Satan's Mortgage. Foreclosed. Tied 
to one straw-stuffed sleeve was a black flag with Slavery clumsily painted 
on it with red lead. On the other sleeve, a whip was tied. Nailed to the 
tree was a well-painted board which said Serpents never die till sun- 

Ben looked a moment at the fire. It was an ugly livid patch of burning 
trash and offal. 

— Cut them down, he said to Queeny. — For God's sake, cut them 

Nick pointed helplessly at the fire. Ben began to strike wildly at it with 
his cane, scattering the embers to the feet of the bystanders. Then the 
steel cap of the stick struck a jug fragile with heat, and as it collapsed 
some corn squeezings lit and flared high, catching the straw in the 
effigy's pantlegs; and the three victims smoked briefly and burst with 
a roar and the air was filled with the stench of old and greasy broadcloth. 
The hat on Ben's fetish fell lightly and rolled to his feet. Ben turned and 
walked away. 

A small boy, his face alight with impudence, tugged at his sleeve. 
— You forgot your hat, Mister, he said, thrusting the scorched relic at 
him. Ben struck at him with his stick, but the boy ducked and the crowd 


laughed. The stick itself began to smolder and a tongue of flame began 
to lick its way up. Nick Queeny took it out of Ben's hand and thrust it 
into the ground to put out the fire. He handed it back to Ben. Ben threw 
it violently away and began to plow through the grass in the direction 
of Beacon Street. 

— What about the hack? Nick said. 

— The hell with the hack. Ben stopped at the rim of the Common. 
He could not forbear to look back. The fire was dying but the heavy 
rope had prevented the flames from burning the heads and they hung 
like gross black teardrops in silhouette against the pale sky. 

Ben turned again to Queeny. On his face was a look of helpless despair. 

— It's not over, is it, Queeny ? 

— No sir. 

— Why do they keep it up like this? I was willing to call quits. 

— Maybe they need something to cry for, a real hanging maybe. 

— They'll very likely drive me to it, muttered Ben. — Don't they realize 
I have the powers vested in me to make a real one out of this ? Don't they 
realize how a man feels to see himself put up like that? 

He waved again at his effigy as the charred rope finally gave way and 
dropped the blackened head into the ashes with a splash of fire. 



The Judgment 



And the Lord said unto Satan, 

— Hast thou considered my servant Job? 
For there is none li\e him in the earth. 
One that jeareth God and escheweth evil; 
And he still holdeth fast his integrity 
Although thou move st me against him to destroy 

him without cause. 

And Satan answered the Lord and said, 

— S%in for s\in. 

Yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. 
But put forth thine hand now 
And touch his bone and his flesh 
And he will renounce thee to thy face. 

They were going to hang Parker for what he said and the crowds 
came to the Music Hall that Sunday to see if he'd say it again. Not all 
of them were sensation-seekers; more people went steadily to Parker 
than any other New England preacher could draw. There were seven 
thousand names on his parish register, culled from the unchurched, the 
unbelieving and the protesting. Strangely enough, the other clergymen 
hated him for this; the same clergymen who welcomed warmly and set 
a place at their own tables for the itinerant fire-breathing evangelists who 
could frighten and exhort these same three classes of backsliders back 
into the deserted pews. 

People came to him who worried secretly about injustice done, whose 
consciences were violated again and again by forces beyond their power 
to resist. He took away from them the reproach of silent consent. 

On this Sunday morning he followed his usual puritan usage of worship: 
to read some verses from the Bible and sing a hymn or two. But on his 


desk was a clump of flowers which was whispered about in the back 
rows as a proof of his paganism. They were blue flags from the brook 
that flowed by his father's Lexington farmhouse. And so they were proof, 
for he had made a special trip for them the day before and taken his shoes 
and stockings off and waded a bit in the stream, warm and swollen with 
the rain, and picked the flowers and kissed them and told his wife that 
they were new words of God. 

He tried to be a warm stream flowing from the gulf into the icy depth 
of New England orthodoxy to touch the cold shores and make them 
bring forth flowers and sweet hay. He tried to make people throw off 
their fears and float in the unfamiliar fluidity of speculation; to think in 
the sanctuary itself and in the presence of the open lids of the sacred Book. 

But this Sabbath he was too hot. He came hissing like steam into the 
clear waters, clouding them and raising bubbles of unrest and fugitive 

— Why stand est thou afar off, O Lord? he demanded angrily, reading 
from the book, — why hidest thyself in time of trouble? The wic\ed in 
his pride doth persecute the poor; let them be ta\en in the devices that 
they have imagined. For the wic\ed boasteth of his heart's desire and 
blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth. The wic\ed, through 
the pride of his countenance, will not see\ after God. God is not in all 
his thoughts. 

He flipped over the pages, nodding his head in agreement with the 
questioning prophets, like a man listening to an old story from an old 
friend, both indignant, because an old wound is reopening and an old 
affliction has been put upon them again. 

— How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she 
become as a widow! She that was great before nations and princess 
among the provinces, how is she become tributary! Her adversaries are 
chief, her enemies prosper; for the Lord hath afflicted her for the multi- 
tude of her transgressions: Her children are gone into captivity before 
the enemy. . . . Jerusalem hath grievously sinned; therefore she is re- 
moved. All that honored her despise her, because they have seen her 
nakedness. . . . For these things I weep . . . mine eyes are running down 
with water because the comforter that should relieve my soul is far from 
me: my children are desolate because the enemy prevailed. . . . 

— fudge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: 
O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man. O send out thy light 
and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill. 
. . . Why art thou cast down, my soul, and why art thou disquieted 


within me? Hope in God for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of 
my countenance and my God. 

As he closed the book, the congregation murmured satisfaction. Some 
of the ignorant among them thought the preacher had written the text 
himself. All agreed that it was a first-rate description of Loring, Hallett 
and Marshal Freeman. 

The morning service proceeded in decent order. A long hymn was 
sung to the throbbing of the organ. But the people kept coming in and 
soon there were no more chairs to set out in the aisles and the latecomers 
had to stand. 

He began his sermon gently, in an easy vein, saving his voice and letting 
the people who were standing up sag a bit on this foot and the other until 
they had set their frames for a long hang. 

— Within the last few days, we have seen some of the results of des- 
potism in America, which might easily astonish a stranger; but a citizen 
of Boston has no right to be surprised. The condition of this town from 
May twenty-fourth to June second is the natural and unavoidable result 
of causes publicly and deliberately put in action. It is only the first fruit 
of causes which in time will litter the ground with similar harvests and 
with others even worse. Let us pretend no amazement that the seed sown 
here has borne fruit after its kind. Let us see what warning or what guid- 
ance we can gather from these events, their cause and consequence. So 
this morning I ask your attention to a sermon of the new crime against 
humanity committed in the midst of us. 

He stopped and took a drink of water. He could see at least eight re- 
porters scribbling in front of him. He looked carefully around to see 
whether Ben Hallett was there. He was disappointed not to find him. 

— I know well the responsibility of the place I occupy this morning. 
Tomorrow's sun will carry my words to all America. They will be read 
on both sides of the continent. They will cross the ocean. It may astonish 
the minds of men in Europe to hear of the iniquity committed in the 
midst of us. Let us be calm and cool and look the thing in the face. 

That was the message for Ben Hallett, a dagger in his heart. He was 
not too big a man to stoop to lash his enemies with the scorpions of envy. 

— Of course, you will understand from my connection with what has 
taken place, I must speak of some things with a great deal of reserve and 
pass by others entirely. However, I have only too much to say. I have had 
but short time for preparation. The deed is so recent. If some of you find 
your patience exhausted and standing too wearisome, you can retire, and 
if without noise, none will be disturbed and none offended. 


All smiled at this, the standees most of all. They would be the last to 
leave. They didn't come there for a place to sit. 

— Wednesday, the twenty-fourth of May, the city was all calm and still. 
The poor black man was at work with one of his own nation, earning 
an honest livelihood. A Judge of Probate, a man in easy circumstances, 
a Professor at Harvard College, was sitting in his office . . . and with a 
single spurt of his pen he dashes off the liberty of a man, a citizen of 
Massachusetts. He kidnaps a man endowed by his creator with the un- 
alienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He leaves the 
writ with the Marshal and goes home to his family, caresses his children 
and enjoys his cigar. The frivolous smoke curls around his frivolous head 
and at length he lays him down to sleep. 

— But when he wakes next morn, all the winds of indignation are let 
loose. Before night, they are blowing all over this Commonwealth. Ay, 
before another night they have gone to the Mississippi and wherever 
the lightning messenger can tell the tale. 

— So I have read in an old medieval legend that one summer after- 
noon there came up a shape, all hot from Tartarus, from hell below . . . 
but garmented and garbed to represent a civil-suited man, masked with 
humanity. He walked quiet and decorous through Milan's stately streets 
and scattered from his hand an invisible dust. It touched the walls, it lay 
on the street. It ascended to the cross on the cathedral's utmost top. It 
went down to the beggar's den. Peacefully he walked through the streets, 
vanished and went home. But the next morning, the pestilence was in 
Milan, and ere a week had passed, half her population were in their 
graves and the other half, crying that hell was clutching at their hearts, 
fled from the reeking city of the plague. 

— I know a great deal about this plague. I sat in the pesthouse itself 
and watched increase of appetite growing by what it fed on. While I sat 
in the Courthouse, my own life was threatened. Friend and foe gave 
me public or anonymous warning. I sat between men who had newly 
sworn to kill me, my garments touching theirs. The malaria of their rum 
and tobacco was an offense in my face. I saw their weapons and laughed 
as I looked the drunken rowdies in their cowardly eyes. 

— The wickedness began with the Commissioner. He was not forced 
into that bad eminence. He went there voluntarily. The soldiers of the 
Czar execute their master's tyranny because they are forced into it. The 
only option with them is to shoot with a musket or be scourged to death 
with the knout. If Mr. Loring did not like kidnaping, he need not have 
kept his office. But he liked it. 


— I never thought him capable of committing this wickedness. I have 
seen him sometimes in the Probate office and he seemed to have a pleasant 
face, fit to watch over the widows and the fatherless. When a bad man 
does a wicked thing, it astonishes nobody. When a good man deliberately, 
voluntarily, does such a deed, words cannot express the fiery indignation 
which it ought to stir up in every man's bosom. It destroys confidence 
in humanity. 

— The wickedness began with the Commissioner. It was to end with 
him. He is sheriff, judge, jury. He is paid twice as much for condemning 
as for acquitting the innocent. He is now the embodiment of Boston 

— Why did Loring do all this? He knew the consequence that must 
follow. He knew that there were men here who will never be silent when 
wrong is done. He knew the Fugitive Slave Bill had only raked the ashes 
over fires that were burning still, and that a breath might scatter the ashes 
to the winds of heaven and bid the slumbering embers flame. Still he 
dared send another citizen of Boston to be whipped to death. 

— Look at Marshal Freeman. I know nothing about him other than 
that he is a Boston man. He arrested the man on a false charge and 
threatened him with violence if he should cry out. He kept him in secret 
and made the Courthouse the property of the slave power. 

— Look at the men he employed for his guard. He dispossessed the 
stews, bawding the Courts with unwonted infamy. He gathered the spoils 
of brothels; prodigals not penitent, who upon harlots had wasted their 
substance in riotous living. Pimps, gamblers, the succubi of slavery. Men 
that the gorged jails had cast out into the streets. Fighters, drunkards, 
public brawlers, convicts that had served out their time, waiting for a 
second conviction. Men whom the subtlety of counsel, or the charity of 
the gallows, had left unhanged. No eye hath seen such scarecrows. He 
chose fit tools for fitting work. If you wish to kill a man, you buy not 
bread but poison. 

— The conduct of the Mayor of Boston needs to be remembered. He 
had the police of the city in Court Square, aiding the kidnaper. It was 
not their fault. They served against their will. The Mayor called out the 
soldiers at great cost to someone. After the wicked deed was over, the 
Mayor attended a meeting of Sunday-school children in Faneuil Hall. 
When he was introduced to the audience, out of the mouths of babes and 
sucklings came a hiss. At night, the citizen soldiery had a festival. The 
Mayor was at the supper and toasted the military, eating and drinking 
and making merry. What did they care, or he, that an innocent citizen 


of Boston was sent into bondage forever and by their hands? The agony 
of Mr. Burns only flavored their cup. So the butcher's dog can enjoy 
himself in the shambles while the slaughter of the innocent goes on 
around him, battening on garbage. 

— What a day for Boston. The day was brilliant. There was not a cloud. 
All around us was a ring of happy summer loveliness . . . the green 
beauty of June. The grass, the trees, the heaven, the light . . . and Bos- 
ton was the theater of incipient civil war. Drunken soldiers, hardly able 
to stand in the streets, sang their ribald song . . . "Carry Me Back to Old 

Parker stopped here for a moment. There was another name he must 
add to maintain the unity of the denunciation. But to name this man 
would help him and ingratiate him with his masters. He would want to 
be named. To leave him out would disappoint the people. Parker could 
tell by their expectancy that they wanted him to get his. He decided to 
improvise something. 

— There is another man; to have him named by me would be an acco- 
lade of distinction in his circle. Actually he is not a man but only a type. 
He does not even aspire to be a man but merely a president. He would 
be before the people continually. No place is too mean, if only public. No 
failure disconcerts him. No fall abates his desire to rise. He knows no 
higher law above his own ambition, for which all means seem just. He 
often speaks of the flag with tears in his eyes, but does not know what 
the flag represents. His voice is a demagogue's. Ignorant men are ever- 
more his tools. Not many days must we go back for learning how he uses 
them. And ignorant he begs them to remain so that he and his kind 
can control the state and laugh at the folly of the cheering masses upon 
whose necks he rides to power and fame. 

The congregation sat back and shifted into new positions. They laughed 
a little and whispered knowingly behind their fans and put the tag on 
the victim. Hallett, of course. Ben Hallett. 

— Pause with me and look at the causes of this fact. There are two 
great forces in this nation: One is slavery; freedom is the other. The two 
are deadly and irreconcilable foes, and they will go on fighting until one 
kills the other outright. In the period of the Revolution, when the nation 
fell back on its religious feelings and developed out of them the great 
political ideas of America, freedom was in the ascendant. These ideas 
demanded that all men have inalienable rights; in that respect, that all 
men are created equal. And that the proximate organization of these 
ideas would be a government of all the people, by all the people, for all 


the people. But now fidelity to slavery is the test of loyalty for officeholders. 
It is the leading ideal of America, the great American institution. 

— Why not? There's money in it. It gives money power and political 
power and these are arguments that even the dullest can understand. Why 
should we not avail ourselves of any institution to secure money and 
political power? These are the objects of the most intense desire in Amer- 
ica. These are our highest things; marks of our great men. Office is tran- 
sient nobility. Money is permanent, inheritable nobility. 

— So the North barters away the transient for the permanent nobility. 
The South is weak in numbers and money, but has the control of the 
Democratic Party . . . rather the South has the name of the Democratic 
Party, for that is all of it that is left. 

— The North has the numbers and the money. What does he care for 
politics as long as his dividends are insured. His tribune is Webster, who 
said the great object of government is the protection of property. If the 
South can hold a man as property against the humanity of the world, he 
has little to worry about his warehouse of goods. 

— He cares not whether cotton is sold or the man who grows it. He 
will not keep a drink-hole in the slums, only own and rent it. He thinks 
it vulgar to carry rum in a jug, respectable in a ship. He sends rum and 
missionaries to the same barbarians. The one to damn, the other to save, 
and both for his own advantage, for his patron saint is Judas, the first 
saint who made money out of Christ. 

— He is the stone in the poor man's shoe. He asks what is good for 
himself but ill for the rest. He knows no right but power; no man but 
self; no God but his Calf of Gold. Through him all the nation says all 
dollars are equal, however got, each has inalienable rights. Let no man 
question that. The morals of a nation, of its controlling class, always get 
summed up in its political action. The voters are always fairly represented. 

He paused and felt a restless stirring in the congregation. Here and 
there a door slammed as some left in indignation. Four faces in the front 
stared at him in hatred. He caught the eye of Sam May. Sam shook his 
head slightly from left to right. He laid aside one or two more pages of 
invective with reluctance and said defensively, — Some men know these 
things, but the mass of men know them not. 

He touched the blue flags at his elbow. The pain in his side was coming 
back and his throat felt raw again. 

— But I think the mass of men know that this is holy ground we 
stand on here. Godly men laid here the foundation of a republic, laid it 
with prayers, laid it with tears and blood. They sought a church without 


a bishop, a state without a king, a community without a lord, a family 
without a slave. Yet even here in Massachusetts, which first of our Ameri- 
can colonies sent forth the idea of inherent and inalienable rights and 
first offered the conscious sacrament of blood . . . here in Boston, full 
of the manly men who rocked the old Cradle of Liberty a week ago 
last Friday, the rights of man were of no avail. United States soldiers 
loaded their pieces in Dock Square to be discharged into the crowd of 
Boston citizens whenever a drunken officer should give command. A 
six-pound cannon was planted before our Courthouse with forty rounds 
of canister shot, and manned by soldiers who were foreigners before they 

He looked down at Sam May as though pleading with him to forgive 
his intemperance and pounded his fist on the desk until his knuckles 
hurt, trying to divert the pain that seemed to be pulling his heart down 
into his pelvis. 

— At high noon, over the very spot where fell the first victim in the 
Boston massacre . . . where the Negro blood of Crispus Attucks stained 
the ground . . . over that spot Boston carried a citizen to Alexandria as 
a slave and order reigned, fellow citizens of Virginia. 

He felt their sharp restlessness again and gave a long pause. He wanted 
to take a drink of water but didn't dare. He was afraid it would increase 
the pain in his side. There was something sticking in his throat. It was 
anger, he supposed, and looked down at his trembling hands. And then 
he stretched them out to them in supplication. — Forgive me. It's just 
that I know not how many of you know your own slavery. I know and 
honor those of you who held meetings and passed resolutions. I know 
that the newspapers of Boston threatened to cut of? all trade with New 
Bedford. They would not buy your oil; they would have no dealings with 
Lynn; they would not tread her shoes under their feet. They would starve 
out Worcester. 

— I try to remember and be just. I know that the natural instinct of 
commerce is adverse to the natural rights of labor. That the chief leaders 
in commerce wish to have their workers poorly paid so that the larger 
gain will fall into their hands. Their laborer is a mill; they must run him 
as cheaply as they can. So the cities of the North are hostile to the slave; 
hostile to freedom. The wealthy capitalists do not know that in denying 
the higher law of God, they are destroying the rock on which alone their 
money could rest secure. 

— The mass of men in cities, the servants of the few, know not that in 
chaining the black man they are putting fetters on their own feet. Justice 


is the common interest of all men. Alas, that so few know what God 
writes in letters of fire in the world's high walls! 

He paused here and listened. All were quiet again and the four hostile 
witnesses in the front row had a look of sadness on their hard faces. His 
voice was tired. He looked down at the sermon again. There were three 
more pages of statistics and invective. Pages of shame that would have 
to be trumpeted forth full-voice. He laid them aside and rested his head 
a moment on his hands, after taking of? his glasses and wiping his eyes. 
He let his anger and his courage slide off his back for a while. He wanted 
to reveal his doubts, to throw himself on the mercy of the court. He 
pushed away the rest of the sermon slowly and holding his glasses in his 
hand, he gazed at them blindly, seeing no one with his worn-out eyes. 

— What then are we to do? There are some among us, men whose 
ideas I deeply respect, who say, Let us divide. Let our erring sister go 
in peace. Let us live in a free North, and our wicked brethren in the 
slave pen and brothel that is theirs. . . . But where shall we draw the 
line? Today it would have to be made north of Boston. The only line 
I could draw today would be from Bromfield to Winter Street, back of 
the Lowell Institute and down Bromfield Place. That contains the only 
politics I can trust. My own and those of my dearly beloved congregation. 

He moved slowly and painfully around the desk and stood free of it 
to one side, supported himself with a shaky hand. And now, no longer 
upheld by the desk, his body sagged. He let all the vanity pass out of it; 
let his great chest sink, his waist thicken, his head droop until the shining 
brow became the flat, pale, naked skull. The people saw their pastor for 
the first time as an old man. They saw his eyes weak and lost in their 
deep sockets without the glasses over them that used to glitter in the light 
like knives, not for effect but to get truth at its lowest for once. 

— Let us for a while put up with slavery. Some of our wisest men tell 
us that the lot of the Negro has improved immeasurably since he was 
taken from African soil and savagery. Let us concentrate our powers on 
improving the lot of the workingman and the unfortunate in our jails, 
asylums and poorhouses. Let us work to expand our country to the far-off 
shores of Oregon. Let it remain whole and unsevered and let not the black 
man be redeemed by the white man's blood. Let slavery die a natural 
death and fall at last, like a rotten limb from the tree of liberty. 

— We could do it. Millions of workers and farmers are doing it. We 
could close our eyes and ears. Some of us do not see a member of the 
despised race from one year to the next. Our stomachs will certainly 
agree. There is not one among you who doesn't stand a better chance of 


getting rich and eating regularly than Mr. Garrison. Our children's need 
for education and security will strengthen our intentions. 

— Then out of the iron house of bondage will come a man, guilty of 
no crime but love of liberty. He will fly to the people of Massachusetts. 
So he comes to us a wanderer and we will take him into an unlawful 
jail; hungry, and we will feed him felon's meat; thirsty, we will give him 
the gall and vinegar of a slave to drink. Sick and in prison, he will cry 
for succor and we will send him the Marshal and his evil posse comitatus. 
We will set him between kidnapers and they will make him their slave. 
Poor and in chains, he will send around to the churches petitions for their 
prayers. Churches of commerce, they will give him their curse. He will 
ask them for the sacrament of freedom. They will say, Thy name is Slave. 
I baptize thee in the name of the Golden Eagle and the Copper Cent. 

He pulled himself back to the desk again and put on his glasses and 
pitched his voice up into sharpness: 

— And while they are reviling Thomas Paine . . . who died poor and 
ailing, and is thus a good example for our new resolve, as an infidel and 
an atheist . . . they will lay their hands, as Jesus said, on the man who 
seeks them out. But where Jesus laid his hand on men to bless them . . . 
on the deaf and they heard; on the dumb and they spoke; on the blind 
and they saw; on the lame and they walked; on the maimed and sick 
and they were whole . . . Boston will lay its hands on the whole and 
free man and straightway he owns no eyes, no ears, no tongue, no hands, 
no foot, and he is a slave. 

He pushed himself up with both hands on his desk and threw back 
his head and let the words trumpet recklessly through his burning throat. 

— Your own body in its functions will deny you this course. Just as 
your own body must deny the abstention from eating, from sleeping or 
from marrying. Just as your body will suffer and corrode if all its duties 
are not fulfilled. So will it suffer if the function of conscience is betrayed 
and subverted. 

— The function of conscience is this: To discover to men the moral 
law of God. To discover those things that are true, independent of all 
human opinions. Such things we call facts. Thus it is true that one and 
one are equal to two; that the earth moves around the sun; that all men 
have certain inalienable rights. Rights which a man can alienate only for 
himself and not for another. No man made these things true and no man 
can make them false. 

— Then it is true that a man held against his will as a slave has a natu- 
ral right to kill anyone who seeks to prevent his enjoyment of liberty. 


— Then it is true that it is a natural duty for the free man to help the 
slaves to the enjoyment of their liberty and as a means to that end, to 
aid them in killing such as oppose their natural freedom. 

— The performance of this duty is to be controlled by the free man's 
power and opportunity to help the slave. 

— The cloud no bigger than a hand is forming on the horizon. It is 
filled with blood. Perhaps it is not too late to bring it harmlessly to 
earth. . . . 

— What shall we do? I think I am a calm man and a cool man and 
I have a word to say as to what we shall do . . . today. Never obey that 
law. Keep the law of God. Next I say, Resist not evil with evil. Resist 
not now with violence. . . . Why do I say this? Will you tell me that I 
am a coward? Perhaps I am. At least I am not afraid to be called one. 
Why do I say, then, Do not now resist with violence? Because it is not 
time just yet. It would not succeed. If I had the eloquence I sometimes 
dream of, which goes into a crowd of men and gathers them in its mighty 
arm and sways them like the elm boughs when the wind is high, I would 
call on men and lift my voice like a trumpet through the entire land, until 
I had gathered millions out of the North and the South and they should 
crush slavery forever, as the ox crushes the spider underneath his feet. 

— It seems that this eloquence was not given to me. It is idle to resist 
by force here and now. It is not the hour. It will come. Let us wait our 
time. ... It will come. Perhaps it will need no sacrifice of blood. 

— Let us call a convention of all Massachusetts without distinction 
of party, to take measures to preserve the rights of Massachusetts. For 
this we want some new and stringent laws for the defense of personal 
liberty, for punishing all those who invade it on our soil. 

— Let us call, then, a convention of all the states, to organize against 
this new master. It is not speeches we want, but action. Not rash action 
but organized action before the liberties of America go to ruin. Then 
what curses all mankind shall heap upon us. 

— Remember, oh remember, all you who love this union of ours: It 
will not stand long as it is. It cannot be saved with slavery in it. No com- 
promise, no nonintervention, no Fugitive Slave Bill. No. It cannot be 
saved in this age of the world until you nullify every ordinance of nature; 
until you repeal the will of God and dissolve the union he has made be- 
tween righteousness and the will of the people. Then, when you displace 
God from the throne of the world and instead of his eternal justice enforce 
the will of the devil, then you may keep slavery. Keep it forever. Keep 
it in peace. Not till then. 


— The question is not if slavery is to cease and soon to cease, but shall it 
end in peaceful legislation, as in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, in Penn- 
sylvania or in New York, or shall it end as in Santa Domingo? Accept 
this law and it will end in fire and blood. God forgive us for our coward- 
ice if we let it come to this: that three millions, or thirty millions of de- 
graded human beings, degraded by us, must wade through slaughter 
to their inalienable rights. 

He stopped and turned away to spit in his handkerchief. He had been 
talking through a bubble of blood for the last five minutes. He went 
shakily off the platform and into his retiring room. The forty-two doors 
of the Music Hall opened and slammed shut as the listeners left. A line 
formed in the aisle near his door. They were silent. They were frightened. 
Dr. Howe and Julia went to the line to take their places. The janitor came 
through the door and beckoned to the Doctor. The people stood aside. 
The Doctor opened the door and shut it quickly behind him. Parker 
was bent over the sink. He turned quickly, red spittle hanging from 
the corner of his mouth, and laid his hands clawlike on his heaving 

— The venomous cat that has detroyed so many of my people has fixed 
her claws in here. 

A rough following sea swung out from the hook of the Cape and 
booted the cutter Morris out of New England waters. The Colonel was 
determined to uphold the virtues of the patriarchal system and sent for 
Tony and permitted him to sit in the cabin with the others, until he and 
Mr. Brent became violently seasick and then Tony was sent out to the 
seething, swirling lime-green deck. There he stayed for hours on end, as 
quiet and inert in the face of this primal violation of his person as he had 
been during the seizure, trial and rendition. 

A few miles of! New York, an inbound packet was hailed and the out- 
retched Colonel and his gentleman companion were put aboard to make 
the rest of their journey by rail. He had no parting word for Tony but 
both were glad to be quit of each other. 

The smoke curls from the New York steamer had hardly sunk and 
rolled like dust over the heaving water when Tony was summoned back 
to the cabin by Asa Butman. He and Riley sat at a table littered with 
chicken bones. They had made light of the Colonel's sickness, eating his 
discarded food before him and plying him with questions about the 
erotic possibilities of plantation life. 


Butman and Riley had just decided to go into business together and 
they greeted Tony affably and asked him to sit and sup with them. 

— McManus had it all down to a T, said Butman to Riley as Tony be- 
gan to eat. — He made a hundred a week sometimes. 

— He's a liar, if you ask me, said Riley sourly. 

— That's just it. That's how he made his money. He worked for a year 
on the Baltimore Line. 

— How did he know the niggers were runaways? 

— He knew right away. Didn't he used to sell them the free papers in 
the first place ? 

— I didn't think they paid much mind to papers down there. 

— Oh, sure, there's lots of darkies walking around with free papers. 
They buy themselves off sometimes. Like gitting out of the navy. 

— What the hell are ya givin' me, Asa? Where the hell would a darky 
git that kind of money? 

— Oh, they make money, never fear. Some of them are barbers and the 
like. Waiters and pimps in hotels and some of the women peddle it, I 

— Good Christ. We've gotta keep them out of Boston. They'll be buyin' 
the Irish. 

— Let me tell you how this McManus did it. He'd get some big buck, 
champin' at the bit and rarin' to go, and he'd work on his mind, work 
on it and work on it. Tell him up North everything was free, gold stick- 
pins and white women. Then he'd make up a fake set of free papers and 
sell them to him for forty-five or fifty dollars. Then he'd put him on the 
train and wire ahead to have him picked up in Philly. He'd get another 
fifty for him there. 

— Well, good luck to him, said Riley. — If he can make it he de- 
serves it. 

All this time Tony was eating nervously, aware that the conversation 
related in some way to him. He looked up and caught Asa winking at 
Riley. He could tell by Asa's tone that he was trying to talk nice and to 
make him seem like one of them. 

— His luck left him, Pat, when he met up with a smart colored man 
like our friend here. 

— How's that, said Riley mechanically. 

— He sold him a sailor's pass for twenty-five dollars and he spelled 
Washington without an h. The man spotted it and turned him in and 
they ran him out of town. 

— An' he lost the job with the railroad? 


— That he did. It don't pay to cheat a smart colored man, eh Tony? 
Tony raised his honest eyes to Asa's and gave him a look of blank 

wonder. He hadn't the vaguest idea of what they were driving at. 

— Aw for the love of God, Butman, are you going to chop and change 
on this deal for the whole of the voyage? Riley said. — Let's have it out 
with the nigger and get it over with. 

Tony got up from his chair. He tried to sidle casually toward the com- 
panionway, moving slowly, looking at his hands and wiping them on 
his coat. A lurch of the ship made him stumble and he fell against the 
wall, breaking the smoothness of his withdrawal. 

— How'd you like to git free, boy? said Butman seductively. — Riley 
and me have got a proposition for you. We can get you off if you like and 
take you back to Boston with us. 

— I don't believe you, Tony said. 

— It can be done, said Riley. — But you'll have to turn agent for us. 
You'll have to tell us about the runaways. 

— You'll be a government agent, Tony. There's no regular pay but I 
can name you a darky in Boston right now that's a rich man outa this 

Tony pushed the cabin door open quickly. He was frightened. The 
friendly looks on their faces made his flesh creep. He was desperately 
afraid of offending them, but they made him feel guilty and dirty. 

— No. No. You just want to get something out of me to hurt the people 
who helped me, and then you'll leave me to die in Virginia. 

He slammed the door and ran up to the deck. He beat his way against 
the wind to a pile of rope and tarpaulin in the V of the bow and covered 
himself in smothering darkness from the sin of the world. 

Nick Queeny felt drawn to saunter down the street near Parker's 
house in the melancholy ebb tide of the hot Sunday afternoon. He was 
not a man to spend his free time drinking or gossiping with a friend. And 
he had come to look upon this narrowing of the focus onto Parker as the 
talisman of his career and indeed, his future. 

He did not know whether Parker was really behind the whole thing, 
and it didn't matter anyway because the newspapers had laid the blame 
on the clergyman . . . had stuck Parker's head on the pikes of their 
columns to simplify, for their readers, a very complicated event. 

Even if it were not true, it was just . . . because Parker seemed de- 
termined to keep the pot boiling, and his sermon of the morning just 


past had the brazen ring of an injured and very likely a guilty person. 

Queeny did not quite know that the crime commits the man but he 
could feel, upon hearing a sentence or two from Parker, uttered at any 
time at all, that the speaker was the kind of man who bears watching, 
just as a look at Queeny himself would tell another that he was the kind 
of man that always watched. 

And sure enough, he was just at the corner of Parker's little street, 
when a huge van drawn by two powerful horses clattered over the cobble- 
stones, took a sharp turn, humping the iron shoe of the rear wheel over 
the curb, and stopped in front of Parker's house. 

It was an odd sight on a Sunday. It indicated urgency and he went close 
enough to it to see a big baize-covered box which he first took for a coffin. 
Three men swung back off the driver's seat and began to tug it toward 
the tail gate. It could be something sinister, Nick thought: some guns, 
or even a fugitive, in there. One of the men turned and jumped to the 
ground from the tail gate and Nick recognized him as a deputy who had 
stood watch at the Courthouse. The man beckoned to him. — Give us a 
lift, he said winking at him. 

Nick stared at him with mouth ajar. The man seemed to be inviting 
him into some monstrous intrigue. He put his shoulders to the load with 
the rest and helped inch it off the cart and up the narrow steps and into 
the house. The truckmen swung it deftly into the parlor, where it was 
greeted with shouts of joy and approval by fifteen or twenty well-dressed 
and extremely respectable-looking people. 

When they set it down in an empty corner, a sweet-faced woman came 
to them with some money in her palm. The boss, Silas Dunbar, waved 
it aside and said it was all being taken care of by Mr. Chickering. 

— It's so inconvenient for you to come on Sunday like this, protested 
the woman, — but we wanted to surprise Mr. Parker and this is the only 
time we could be sure that he'd be out of the way. 

— That's all right, Mrs. Garrison, said Dunbar. — We'll just be going 
along now. He touched his cap and turned casually. 

Nick was amazed at his calmness. His own stomach had started to 
burn at the mention of the woman's name and he could feel an angry 
flush rising in his cheeks. 

— Perhaps they'd like some cool tea and cake, said another woman, 
tall and girl-like. — Won't you come into the dining room a moment and 
have some refreshments? It's all on the table. 

Dunbar scratched his head doubtfully. He looked at his helpers. They 
were gazing about them with covert eagerness, storing up the look of the 


place to tell the old lady when they got home. And what did she have for 
a carpet down? God, it was a little thin one and all faded. 

Nick, feeling that it would be an advance in the face of the foe, took 
a blundering step or two toward the dining room. The tall woman slipped 
a cool arm into the crook of his. She was at eye level with him and he 
had to look her fully in the face. She smiled into him, directly, as no 
woman had ever done before, and said, — I'm sure this young man would 
like something. He hasn't even got his church clothes ofT yet. Wouldn't 
you like some cold roast? 

Nick followed her, smirking a little as she turned away. It was so easy. 
These people are fools, so open, so unsuspecting. 

The table was covered with cakes and all sorts of light, fluffy teatime 
things. The boys came gingerly in after Nick, sliding their caps clockwise 
through their hands. — I'm going to bring you a malt beverage, said 
the woman. — That's what Theodore would do if he were here. She 
spoke in a low tone as if it were a secret between them and went into 
the kitchen. 

— Mrs. Parker, said Dunbar in a heavy whisper. — And beer all 

— Did yez ever see the like, marveled one of the boys. 

— I'm leavin' after me beer, said the other. — My wife would kill me 
if she knew I was drinkin' under the roof of these God-damned Sabbath 

— I thought they was all temperance. 

— Well, they're temperance but they're not absentees. 

They stood in awkward silence until she came back with the refresh- 
ments. She thanked them again for the delivery. It was a present for her 
husband, and Mrs. Garrison had taken up a collection for it. Nick was 
shocked by the warm and intimate way she talked about it to them and 
was even more disturbed by the way Dunbar Mrs.-Parkered her be- 
tween his hearty gulps and swigs. Nick ate and drank slowly, not daring 
to look at her straight again, partly because he might blush and partly be- 
cause he might fall prey to her tenderness. 

She stood by them until they were full up and when they turned to 
go, urged them to stay and hear a little music. 

— We feel so grateful to you for coming out like this on your day of 
rest. But if you can't stay, you can take some of these little cakes home 
to the children. 

She left for some paper to wrap them in and Nick turned to Dunbar 
and said, — I'm staying. I think you should stay too. 


— I know it ain't polite to eat and run, he said, — but I gotta git them 
hosses back. They're all sweated up. 

— We don't know what's really in that case. Funny they should want 
it so much on a Sunday. 

— It's a piano. What the hell did you think it was? asked Dunbar. 

— There might be a fugitive in there. They might have Burns himself 
in there. 

Dunbar looked at him in amazement. He set down his beer glass and 
went to meet Mrs. Parker at the door. She had three generous packages 
in her hands. Dunbar gave two to the others and thanked her profusely. 
On his way out he looked again at Nick as if he were going to spit in 
his eye. 

Mrs. Parker took Nick's arm again and led him around the parlor, in- 
troducing him: Dr. Howe, Mrs. Howe, Mr. and Mrs. Hovey, Mr. San- 
born, Mr. May, Mr. and Mrs. Alcott and their daughter Louisa . . . He 
carefully filed them in his mind and put his eye on them like an accusing 
finger. Then he came smack up against a slight bald-headed man whose 
eyes accused him back. Mr. Garrison ... It was like the trumpet call to 
charge. Fortunately, someone spoke to Garrison at that moment, and he 
was able to drop back a bit and compose himself. He reached into his 
pocket for his handkerchief and felt a ragged cigar that Ben had given 
him the day before. He put it in his mouth and lit up. They were all 
here. He caught a glimpse of Phillips in the hallway, looking at some 

— Is there something burning? I smell something on fire. 
He looked around into the eyes of Garrison. 

— Is that a malady you've got, brother, that you smoke that thing, said 
Garrison. — Or is it habit and indulgence merely? 

Nick found himself without words to reply. 

— Anti-slavery wants her mouths for other uses than to be flues for 
besotting tobacco smoke. 

— I don't smoke as a practice, sir. 

— They may as well be rum ducts as tobacco funnels. 

— Somebody gave me this cheroot and I . . . 

— Not here I hope. We rejoice that so few noses here are thus profaned. 
Nick stepped to the window and tossed the cigar away. Garrison 

clapped him joyously on the shoulder. — A revolution, he cried. Every- 
one turned to look. — A glorious revolution without noise or smoke. 

— Please, said Mrs. Howe. — No revolutions while I'm here without 
my knitting. 


— Look, a vice abandoned, a self-indulgence denied and all from 

The entire room was laughing. 

Someone, looking out of the window at the cigar butt, saw Parker's 
hack coming around the corner. Mrs. Garrison lifted the cover off the 
piano, gave Julia Howe the key, and she turned it in the lock. Nick leaned 
forward. When the lid was opened, a blackbird would sing? The guests 
began to move toward the instrument. The door opened and Parker's 
footsteps came into the hall. Julia hit a chord and all sang to Parker as 
he stood, startled, at the parlor door. — / am an Abolitionist, I glory in the 
name. It was to the tune of Auld Lang Syne. 

No one spoke to Parker about his attack that morning. Only Julia 
knew that he had been to Dr. Howe's office for an examination. She let 
someone else play awhile and she talked to the doctor when he came in 
after dismissing the hack. He was irritable and disturbed. 

— How's the patient? she said. 

— Worst I ever had! 

— Sickest? 

— No. Damnedest! 

— Now Dr. Howe. Remember your sacred oath. 

— Well, he is. He chivied me all during the examination. He criticized 
my technique of auscultation. Said I didn't spend enough time on the 
infrascapular region, talked on about his lack of rdles and bronchi and 
gave me the medical history of at least thirty members of his family. 

— What has he got ? 

— I don't really know. He's so badly overworked, it might be anything. 
I can't tell until he quiets down. Everything's off . . . pulse, heart, lungs, 
eyesight, headaches. 

— What about the spitting of blood ? 

— I don't know. He's abused his throat so much it might be a strain 
or a malignant growth. He has a touch of bronchitis. 

— What does he think it is? 

— Consumption ... or to quote him directly: Haemoptysis is fre- 
quently the precursory symptom of phthisis. 

— Oh dear, said Julia. — Oh, I pray it isn't. 

— That could be the least of his trouble if he doesn't slow down. He 
must rest. He must immobilize himself. He's a candle burning in a 

She turned to look at Parker a minute. He was at the piano, looking 
rapidly and happily through a music book. He placed the music on the 

rack. The chords were struck and she heard a hoarse voice, rough, rasp- 
ing and out-of-key, singing — Despised, rejected . . . 

— Stop him, Sam, stop him. 

Howe went to the piano and pulled Parker away. 

Then in the midst of the singing and gaiety, Nick heard a knock on 
the door. He was standing in the hallway looking at the shelves of books 
that cascaded down the stairwall from Parker's study on the third floor. 
The others were making too much noise to hear it, and Nick wondered 
if he should answer for the host. He decided to open the door and slip 
out as the caller entered. He felt that he had stayed too long as it was 
and that people were beginning to look at him and ask about him. As 
he drew open the door, a tall slender man stepped in. The man gave him 
a nervous smile, obviously taken by surprise to see a stranger there. Nick 
saw that he had a scar on his chin made by a deep cut. 

Parker caught sight of his visitor and came quickly to him, clutched 
him by the arm and started to lead him into the parlor. The door stood 
ajar and Nick stepped around it to the threshold. He started to wave to 
Parker, to leave without further ado, but could not gain his attention. 

— I've come for a book, Theodore. I can't stay, said the man. 

— All the way from Worcester for a book, Tom. I could have sent 
it to you. 

— You mentioned a writer once on the old feudal codes, Salic and 
Ripuarian . . . before Charlemagne. 

— Oh, that would be Potgiesser. It'll take you a year solid to get 
through it. 

— I know. I've got the time. I'm going to give myself up to the police 

Nick stepped back out of sight, but listening hard. Parker saw the door 
standing open. He slammed it shut. Nick found himself shut out but 
he walked away with the thrill of a great discovery. 

— Please go upstairs, Tom, said Parker and Higginson, his hand held 
defensively to his chin, walked slowly up to the study. He hoped there 
wouldn't be too much talk about this thing he was about to do, the only 
course, he had decided after considerable soul-searching, that a decent 
man could take with the men sweltering in jail because of him. He 
shouldn't have come here at all but he wanted to show his stigmata and 
perhaps ask, if he dared, why they had forsaken him. He was disturbed, 
after he had sat for a moment in a wicker chair beside Parker's desk, to see 
that Parker had brought Phillips and Dr. Howe up with him. 

— I thought it best to get the other members of the committee in 


on this, Parker said. — It's really a matter of policy and we don't want 
another fiasco. 

The three sat quietly, looking at him with kindly eyes . . . but they 
were such big men. Dr. Howe with his knight's beard and great wave 
of shining hair . . . He sat a little forward in his chair, the doctor did, 
anxious to confer attention, but his eyes seemed sharp as scalpels and 
Tom had seen them turn and cut. Wendell Phillips sat in profile, calm 
and relaxed, with his fingers together and his feet and knees held exactly 
side by side. Parker sprawled at the desk, his hands nervous, diddling 
with a pencil and touching a book or two lightly with his fingertips. 
Parker's face crinkled when he listened; on his face his answer always 
formed before the other man was through talking. And Parker alone 
seemed at home in this room. Howe leaned away from it, as if the walls, 
troubled by their rough and confusing applique of disorderly books, were 
going to fall on him. Phillips also sat away from the room, a calm stroke 
on swirling background. But Parker sprawled in it, alert to its flexibility, 
like a man relaxing but alert on the deck of a sailboat, ready to jump in 
an instant and trim to the wind. 

Here the room was the man. The books were also sprawled out and 
apprehensive, catalogued by the touch system, always moving, always at 
hand in case of need, never set in dead rows, but in quick piles and heaps 
bulging like muscles and full of power. 

And here, could he say to the man sitting under the bust of Socrates, 
the man with a face like a twin of the graven image above him, Why 
didn't you come? Why didn't you send the people? Why did you desert 
me on the edge of triumph? . . . No, the words stuck in his throat. In- 
stead, he took two letters from his pocket and smoothed them out. 

— These men in jail now. I feel we owe them something. Stowell has 
written me a letter and I've had one from the Browne boy. He's not twenty 
yet and he's very upset, shut up there with the colored people. 

He stopped and looked up, sensing a coming of slight coolness into the 
friendly eyes. He smiled with all the charm he could muster. — They're 
rough customers and he's a college boy, prominent family and all that. 

He looked down at Browne's letter. That's what it said and it had 
seemed appealing and important before. — I know this sounds a mite 
snobbish but he's asking questions, his sense of values is pretty badly 

He looked up again, smiling fully, but the temperature was dropping, 
dropping. He folded up the letters and put them carefully away, deciding 
to meet the thing head-on with the loud clamoring of his conscience. 


— After all, there are eleven men in jail because of our plan. Don't you 
think we owe some responsibility to them? 

— Do you think we can shoulder that responsibility by making it 
twelve? asked Dr. Howe, temperately. 

— Well, yes. Do you think it fair that they should bear it alone when 
we three are so much more guilty? 

— Then you want to make it more than twelve. What would be a 
fair number? Fifteen or twenty? Where shall we draw the line? There 
are more than fifty on the full committee, asked Dr. Howe. 

— I'm willing to draw the line at one, said Higginson proudly. — I 
shall consider it the highest honor ever attained by a Higginson. 

Parker felt his head throb at the temples and the crown and a sharp 
ache like two iron fingers pinching the back of his neck. He began to 
look through a book on his desk to calm himself. — Will your family 
regard it as such a great honor? he said as quietly as he could. 

— Of course, said Tom. — Why, as a sample of how Mary is taking 
it, she asked me if my letters would be read by the jailer. My small niece 
had my picture hanging on the door the other day with a sign hanging 
on it, the martyr's picture, and the family cat in a basket on the door- 
step labeled the martyr's kitty. 

Dr. Howe could see the flaunting signs of anger and discomfort rising 
in Parker and tried to head off the discussion. Phillips sat fixed in his 
usual iron calm. 

— Why don't you wait and let them arrest you, Tom ? 

— I'm afraid of what would happen in Worcester, Doctor. They'll rise 
for me, to a man. It would bring on another disastrous riot. Saturday 
night there was a great public meeting and a committee of twelve was 
sent up to escort me there and I was received with cheer on cheer! 

— Why are you so joyful about it, Higginson? Parker growled. — You 
act as if you were really going to some glorious martyrdom. 

The roughness of his voice hurt Higginson. He looked at the three and 
found them hostile. He plunged into deeper recklessness, trying to rebuke 

— I shall feel a joy in being arrested because I know that it will be an 
additional stimulus to the feeling of the people. 

There was nothing but silence from the others at this. He rose in 
desperation, ready to go, flinging his gauntlet at them. — The men 
who are arrested are obscure men. But I have a name and a profession 
and a personal position, enough to stimulate the entire country. I went 
proudly unarmed into danger, where armed men behind shrank from 


following. I did not even strike a blow. But I did try to break the 
Fugitive Slave Law and I will confess it, proudly and openly. And I don't 
think an American jury will ever convict me. 

Parker turned the pages in the book with a rush. On his face, even to 
the top of his scalp was the dark stain of anger. Howe watched him 
pityingly, knowing the racing of the pulses in him, the dry throat and 
the two drumsticks of veins in his temples, beating a hard tattoo on his 

Phillips rose to restrain Higginson. — I am but a poor counselor, Tom, 
but as a lawyer, let me give you some advice. 

— Gladly, Higginson said. — I'm not opposed to advice. I listen to 
everybody. I just wanted to make my position clear, that's all. Why has 
no one said anything? Why am I getting nothing but black looks? 

— First of all, said Phillips gently, — you have evidently made up 
your mind to martyrize yourself. 

— Not myself, said Higginson hotly. — What I said here could apply 
to any of us. I'm not selfish enough to say I was the only one involved. 

— That's right, said Phillips patiently. — That's why I want to say 
a few words more on the matter. You were the only one at the Court- 
house that was involved with this committee. The men they are holding 
now are actually mere adventurers with no political history, at any rate. 

Higginson broke in. — Martin Stowell is not an adventurer. He's 
secretary to the Worcester Temperance League. 

— Well, said Parker tartly, — he carried a very intemperate loaded 
pistol to the Courthouse and discharged it in a very intemperate spirit. 

Phillips got up and laid his hand to Higginson's sleeve to stop his 
reply to this and went on in his calm way. — What we mean is that 
there is no political profit in prosecuting them. But if they could get 
to you, they might prove connection between the meeting and the 
murder. That would be very bad for our cause. 

— Don't worry. If I give myself up I shall involve no one and admit 
nothing but breaking the Fugitive Slave Law. 

— If you give yourself up, said Phillips sadly, — you won't be charged 
with breaking the Fugitive Slave Law. You'll be charged with murder. 

— Murder, said Tom blankly. — But I was unarmed! 

— So were the Marshal's guard. That's what they intend to say, Tom. 
We have that from the County Prosecutor. 

The room was quiet. Higginson could hear Parker turning the pages. 
He heard him close the book with a slam, and get up. Suddenly the 
complexity of the situation burst upon him. He struggled against the 


hard death of the martyrdom within him. He went to Parker and took 
him by the arm. He pleaded with him. 

— What are we going to do about our guilt? I'm a clergyman. So are 
you. We've broken the law. Aren't we obliged to confess it? Isn't it a lie 
not to confess it ? How can we be an example to people if we conceal our 
guilt like common thieves? Can we rest because other men, common men, 
ignorant men, adventurers, are in jail today who have done less than we 
have and have done what they did because we told them to ? 

— Go ahead, said Parker turning away. — Give yourself up if you're 
guilty. I'm not responsible for your conscience. I have enough trouble 
with my own. The charge that will be brought against us is murder and 
treason. How do I know if I'm guilty or not? I'm glad Batchelder was 
murdered. I wished the same for Watson Freeman. That makes me as 
guilty as if I had planned it. If they had laid hands on me to carry me 
into slavery, I would have killed them with as little compunction as I 
would a mosquito. Should I do less for my brother? How do I know 
what special acts of mine will be brought up against me if I give myself 
up and plead Guilty? I think they'd indict my own mother, dead thirty 
years, for treason because she bore me. I have committed misdemeanors 
all my life ... all my life in opposing and resisting any and every 
assault upon freedom, resisting the slave courts, its commissioners, its 
judges, its marshals and its marshal's guard. Why should I give myself 
up now, and thus be able to resist no longer? Life itself is checking my 
resistance, rotting my entrails. . . . Should I let a pack of dogs whom I 
despise snuff me out before nature itself? 

Higginson stood sheepishly silent, his chest deflated, his high narrow 
shoulders bent. He put a conciliating hand on Parker's back. Parker shook 
it off with an almost imperceptible movement, went back to the desk, 
sat down, pulled out his watch and started to take his own pulse. 
Dr. Howe took the watch away from him and laid it on the desk out of 

Now Higginson sat down again. — I guess I was wrong. I'll leave 
it up to the committee. Perhaps they won't arrest me after all. I think 
public opinion will be too much aroused. 

— They'll arrest you, said Dr. Howe, unconsciously smacking his lips. 
— There's a warrant out for you now, but they're holding it back. 

— Why are they holding it back ? 

— Because they want to catch some bigger fish than you, possibly. 
Some of us are a little better known in Boston than you are, although 
no great shakes in Worcester perhaps. 


Parker grinned. Howe went on quickly, his voice faintly touched with 

— Hallett is going to work on the grand jury for an indictment against 
Wendell and Theodore. We know he has approached two people for 
witnesses, and he had some men at the Music Hall today, taking down 
the sermon. 

— I didn't know about all this, Higginson said. 

— Naturally they wouldn't dare to mention it in Worcester, but it's 
common gossip around this unregenerate town. We think the coroner 
and his jury are favorable to us. They might hand down a verdict of 
accidental homicide by the police. 

Parker raised his hand. — Let me put a word in here. Let me tell you 
how we might get this verdict. Because Waldo Emerson's brother-in-law 
is the medical examiner, and doubtless will be guilty of subverting evi- 
dence in order to throw the crime on the Marshal's guard. 

Higginson writhed in distaste. Parker saw his discomfort. — Does this 
offend you, Higginson? . . . It's not quite heroic, is it? 

— Frankly, I find a rather nasty odor about this thing. I seem to smell 
the decay of corruption in here. 

— That's not the smell of corruption, my boy, said Parker. — That's 
the stink of power. It's faint now, but it will get stronger and it will be 
on all of us. 

Suddenly, again, Higginson felt revulsions to conquer. He walked 
to the window, feeling himself flung full circle again. Feeling as he had 
after the attack had failed, hanging like a naked bat surprised by day- 
light, against the wall by the broken door of the Courthouse. 

— I don't know, he said slowly. — I don't like this. I didn't do what I 
did, or ask others to do it, for the sake of gaining power. We did . . . 
I think we all, all of us here, tried to save a man. But look at the way 
we're going. Do you realize that not once during this entire discussion 
has any one mentioned Tony Burns and what might be happening to 
him this very minute ? 

The other three looked thoughtfully at each other, realizing that there 
was still a great deal of talking to be done before Higginson could depart 
and get free from their counsel without being a source of danger. Phillips 
motioned to Parker to take up the matter. Parker began in a rather 
heavy, deliberately brutal mood. 

— Let's forget about Anthony Burns for the moment Tom, and how 
Worcester feels about things. Burns is gone. We don't know what they're 
doing to him. They might be beating him to death. Such speculation at 


the moment has only sentimental value. The act has been enforced. Law 
reigns, as Ben Hallett says. The bells tolled his passing. You and I 
preached the interment sermon this morning. But Burns is not the only 
victim of the plague. Now the bells are tolling for us. 

He got up and looked a moment at the muskets now restored to their 
whittled clamps above the fireplace, running his hands over the seamed, 
honey-colored stocks. 

— Our bells were started by the death of Batchelder. I don't know 
whether Stowell killed him or not. Tom Drew says he did. He's hidden 
his gun somewhere with a shot missing. 

Higginson turned to them in sorrow. — You know Martin Stowell 

— We don't care whether he did or not, Parker said. — But we've got 
to be ready to defend him. If Drew says it, there might be others. That's 
up to the coroner's jury to decide after they get a report from the medi- 
cal examiner. It happens to be our jury. In other words, we have enough 
influence on that jury to bring in a verdict favorable to us, regardless of 
the facts. 

— Then it is a fact that Stowell killed him, Higginson said. 

— I don't know, said Parker. — I don't want to know. Dr. Jackson 
has ruled that it was a stab wound. That's enough for me. 

— And it will be thrown on the guard? 

— They say yes . . . but I don't think it will be left that way. Certain 
people have to be protected. Certain people have to save face. So it boils 
down to this. If they say it was a pistol shot and blame Stowell, that will 
be the end for all of us. If they say it was a knife wound and blame the 
guard, we'll still be at the peril of proving our case against the United 
States Government. But if they say it was a knife wound and blame 
Stowell, the case will never be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, be- 
cause Martin Stowell was carrying a gun. 

Dr. Howe looked at Higginson with amusement. — It's a mite com- 
plex, isn't it, Tom? 

Tom put his hands to his head. It was aching now. — I didn't ask 
Martin to bring a gun. 

— I'm glad you didn't, said Parker. — We want the other side to do 
all the shooting. We're not strong enough to hide behind firearms yet. 
But I think they know he had a gun. So let us assume we can't get a 
verdict of accidental homicide by the police; that we have to give them 
quid pro quo. Let them charge Stowell. We got a quick burial without an 
autopsy. They get a person's unknown verdict. 

2 8 7 

Higginson wrinkled his face in bewilderment. — But everybody is 
already saying he was killed by one of the guards. If we control that 
jury, why compromise? Why put Martin under a murder charge at all? 

— Because if we blame the guard, the government will go looking for 
that gun, and they'll find out where he bought it and who met him at 
the train and all the rest of the links in the chain from the meeting to 
the attack. 

— I still don't understand ... If the jury is ours . . . Tom began, 
sinking deeper and deeper into his chair, obsessed now with the idea of 
lightening the charge on Martin Stowell. 

— This jury, the coroner's jury, is ours, interrupted Parker. — But this 
case will come up before another jury, possibly two. It will come up 
before a grand jury drawn by Mayor Smith and instructed by District 
Attorney Sanger. Sanger is a fair man, but he's under great pressure and 
we can't be sure of what he'll do. After all, we have to assume that the 
other side will fight as hard and as deviously as we do. 

Higginson got up and stretched himself, yawning with tension. He 
twisted and turned his neck like an angry swan. He tried to walk around 
the room but he found he could not take three clean strides without 
stubbing into some books or pamphlets piled on the floor or a chair. 
The floor was like a trap or a rocky field a horse couldn't get a plow 
through without twisting and turning and making his seed cut all 

— I'm not convinced, he said, his voice pitching high and shaky. — I 
think you're exaggerating the thing all out of proportion. You're making 
it too devious. I still say we have nothing to fear from a jury. We have 
the best lawyers in the country . . . and I'm sure some newspapers will 
print our defense. 

— Sit down, said Parker harshly. Tom sat. Parker turned to Phillips. 
— I'm going into the legal thing a bit, Wendell. Correct me if I'm wrong. 

— I wouldn't think of it, said Phillips smiling broadly. — I'm sure I'll 
like your way better. 

— Tom, Parker said, standing before Higginson, who slumped like a 
stubborn child in his chair. — It seems I've got to put the fear of God 
into you after all. You may have some honest and romantic notions about 
a jury, but you're thinking of a trial jury. What do you know about a 
grand j ury ? 

— Practically nothing, mumbled Higginson. 

— Then listen. A grand jury meets in secret and admits no newspapers 
or attorneys for the defense. It exists solely for the aid and comfort o£ 

the prosecutors of the law. It is the creature of the accusers. Mainly, it is 
the creature of the judge. 

— Let us presume . . . well, we don't have to assume, it's already a 
fact . . . that our matter comes up before a judge who received his office 
as a reward for party services . . . was made a judge because he was 
one-sided as a lawyer. In all criminal cases he is expected to twist the law 
to the advantage of the hand that feeds him. Especially is this true in 
political trials, prosecutions for opposition to the party the judge repre- 

— Now this judge has a body of men before him to cull out a grand 
jury which will uphold his attempt to pay his political debts. If he has a 
case of breaking the Fugitive Slave Law, he challenges them thus: 
Have you formed an opinion that this law is unconstitutional so that you 
cannot indict a person under it for that reason ? All those honest enough 
to say yes are swept aside. That is riddling number one. 

— Then he asks those who have no doubt that it is constitutional: Do 
you hold any opinions on the subject of slavery or this law which would 
induce you to refuse to indict a man for helping his brother to freedom? 

Parker swung his hand in a great arc like a cavalryman in a saber 

— More heads roll, more good men and true are found wanting. But 
there are a few faithful left, and the judge puts his next question . . . 
the worst : Will you accept for law whatever the court declares such ? 

— Not many deny this question. To do so would be to be put out of 
the grand inquest and declared not good men and true. 

— Then he gives him the oath. There are various forms of it. I could 
quote it verbatim if you wish . . . but you will swear to keep secret the 
counsel of the prosecutors' and your own and your fellows' information 
and opinion. Then the judge selects the most pliant member as a fore- 
man, usually some postmaster or petty official looking to the govern- 
ment for his bread. Then he delivers his charge to them. Out of the 
whole complex of law ... he might go back to the Norman Conquest, 
or before it ... he selects whatever special weapon will best serve his 
immediate purpose. This is the law, he says to the jury, that you have 
sworn to enforce. I have not made it. It is the lex terrae. If he cannot find 
a weapon that perfectly fits, he combines others to make it . . . to make 
a straight statute into a hook and catch hold with that. 

— Thus he constructs the jury out of the men he wants, constructs the 
law and bends it to the offense. All the jury have left is the work of 
listening to the evidence and signing the bill, billa vera, a true bill. 


— Bravo, said Phillips clapping his hands. — But you forgot Ben 
Hallett. Let's get him into the picture. 

— Oh yes, Parker said. — The judge hands the jury over to the Dis- 
trict Attorney, another agent of the government, appointed for his party 
service, expecting future pay for present work. There are such District 
Attorneys, gentlemen. 

— Hear, hear, said Dr. Howe, beginning to laugh. Both he and 
Phillips were enjoying the speech immensely. The hard, tight, dooms- 
day gloom of the room was swept away by Parker's savagery. 

— We cannot expect that this place should always be filled by such 
unblemished integrity as that of the Honorable Mr. Hallett. Such a Dis- 
trict Attorney, bearing his great commission in his look, his political 
course as free from turning and winding as the river Missouri, high- 
minded, spotless and unsuspected, never seeking office, yet alike faithful 
to his principles and his party and with indignant foot spurning the 
administration's bootless bribe. 

Parker stopped for breath and joined in the laugh. Then he went close 
to Higginson, showing off a bit to the others and looking merrily at them 
out of the corner of his eyes. He pointed his finger almost in Higginson's 
eyes and said: 

— And this Attorney talks to the most pliant jurors, coaxes them, 
wheedles them, swears at some and threatens them with the displeasure 
of the government. . . . He might tell them not to find guilt is an act 
of perjury. 

Higginson angrily pushed the mocking offending finger away. — Why 
are you making a joke of this thing now . . . and of me? 

Parker stopped, realizing he had gone too far; been too gay with his 
own eloquence whirling in his head like wine. He sobered himself and 
said, — I'm sorry. You're right. It's no joke. But in conclusion, if the 
grand jury hands down an indictment of murder, you are brought to 
trial for murder and you discuss murder and defend yourself against 
murder and it doesn't give a hoot about any other law. 

Howe and Phillips knew that an embarrassing situation had arisen. 
They drifted together over to the bookshelves and began to take down 
some volumes and discuss them in a perfunctory way, avoiding a look at 
Higginson, taut with fury. Parker decided that the best thing for him to 
do would be to brazen it out and he stood facing him, looking him 
straight in the eye. 

Higginson got up awkwardly, seeking in his mind for a phrase to 
extricate himself from the room. He put his feet on the chair seat one 


after another and retied his shoes. Then he said in a voice kept low to 
conceal the angry tremor in it: — The guilt still has to be proved in open 
court. I'm not worried. 

— You shouldn't be, Parker said tartly. — You've already admitted your 

— Not of murder. 

Phillips nudged Howe to go in and break up the conversation. 

— You can't plead to anything but the indictment, Tom. That's what 
he was trying to explain before he got off on Ben Hallett. 

— Well, said Tom overcasually as he tried to conceal how much he 
had been hurt. — Why can't we go to this man Sanger and see what he 
has in mind? ... If he's a fair man. 

Parker laid a placating hand on Tom's sleeve. — That might be a good 
idea. I think we could approach him directly on this. But our real prob- 
lem is the Circuit grand jury. That's Justice Curtis's jury. Of course he 
has his eye on the Chief Justice's chair. Don't you think he'll get that 
office if he silences us ? He and his kind can never happily advance unless 
our kind are silenced. The sheer logic of his position will indict us. On 
top of that, there's personal malice deep and long-cherished against me 
for some remarks I once made about him. I have a way of stinging people 
from time to time. 

— Amen to that, said Howe to Phillips. 

— As you doubtless know yourself, Tom, said Parker. — But you're the 
last person in the world that I should get riled. You and Martin Stowell 
could be an ax for the government to grasp with a red hand and cleave 
me from crown to pelvis. 

— What if they arrest me tonight? Tom said. 

— Get back to Worcester and get yourself a good lawyer, urged Howe. 
— Dana says you must above all have counsel with you at the time of 
your first examination. Another lawyer told me, John Andrew in fact, 
that the best thing you could do would be to get out of the country. To 
Nova Scotia or Canada for a while. 

— What does he take me for? Higginson said. — What makes him 
think I'd turn tail and run at a time like this? How could he think of 
such a thing? 

— It was probably suggested to him by some of the more proper 
members of the Vigilance Committee. You could involve a lot of very 
respectable people by answering three or four questions unwisely. I 
personally think you owe us all some discretion before the courts. 

— I don't know how good a lawyer I can afford. I'll get the best I can. 


All three assured him that there would be plenty of money available 
for him. They talked of lecture dates at fifty dollars a night. Phillips 
spoke of a dozen lectures he could turn over to him in the West. Dr. Howe 
mentioned a series of lectures planned for that winter in Boston. He said 
he was on the committee and that they were to be anti-slavery lectures. 

Parker's ears pricked up. Tom said he thought it would be unwise of 
him to accept Phillips's offer of some canceled lecture dates in the West, 
because of his wife's ill health, but he was willing to speak anywhere 
around New England. Dr. Howe had intoned his offer with a graceful 
bow of the head, assuring Higginson that there might be a very good 
chance of gracing the platform in the near future. 

— What anti-slavery lectures? Parker asked. — I didn't know about 
this. Who's speaking? You, Wendell? 

Phillips shook his head. 

— Has Garrison been asked? Or Abby Foster? 

— I don't think so, said Howe nervously. 

— Why not? asked Parker. 

— I don't know why not, said Howe. — I didn't get them up. 
I'm merely on the committee. Stone is getting them up and he has 
a certain plan that he's very anxious to try out. He's asked both sides 
to speak. 

— Both sides, said Parker hotly. — What is he going to do, invite Toombs 
of Georgia, Benton of Missouri and the rest of the slave hunters? 

— Yes, said Howe nettled to the core. — That's exactly what he intends 
to do. They have been asked and have accepted. 

— And may I ask who is to present the rebuttal to these gentlemen, if 
Wendell Phillips, Lloyd Garrison and Abby Foster are considered personae 
non gratae at these so-called anti-slavery lectures ? 

— Well, we have Dr. Stone and C. F. Upham. 

— Dr. Stone? An unfrocked minister no less, and the genteel C. F. 
Upham! You couldn't find two weaker men. Stone is like a little gadfly 
picking and picking, and Upham manifestly insincere. I mean it, Chev 
... A rank opportunist, manifestly insincere. 

Howe flashed out in indignation. — Come, come, dear Parker. Let us be 
a little charitable. Why swear at Upham? Why jump to conclusions that 
he would not do well? Why do you have to forever be such a terrible 
Turk? These are not anti-slavery lectures. These are an attempt to reach 
people in the middle of the road. If we advertise you and Phillips and 
Garrison and Abby, do you think we can get the mouths of three thou- 
sand Hunker Whigs open to shove down anti-slavery doctrines? 


— It's a retreat, Chev, and you know it. This is exactly the time Wen- 
dell and I should be asked. Now that we are under attack, don't you see 
that by snubbing us you give comfort to our enemies? 

— We're not snubbing you. We're reaching for an audience that you 
and Wendell cannot and never will be able to command. You have other 
places to talk. You're not barred from platforms in Boston. 

— I might be if this series is taken for an example. I have an idea that 
that's just what it is. The tide is turning, and Stone and company are try- 
ing to take over the movement and make it respectable. They think that 
if they give an anti-slavery series without us, no one else will be obliged 
to listen to us and we can be put into the background. I take it as a plot 
to discredit and isolate the radicals in the movement. 

Higginson looked at them in horror. He had never seen them quarrel 
before. Before this afternoon, he could never remember raising his own 
voice in anger to a friend. If you got that angry at people you just dropped 
them with a cool good-by, and it was all over. A few dollars for some lec- 
tures ... — Please, gentlemen, he begged. — Let's forget the whole thing. 
I'll get along quite well. It isn't worth an argument. 

Howe swung to look at him with his scalpel eyes, and then turned back 
to Parker as if Tom hadn't spoken at all. — Why are you so all-fired de- 
structive ? There is a tendency in your mind to attribute unworthy motives 
to everybody who will not go along with you. You overrate things; you 
are getting childish. You think that people always have you in mind when 
they say and do things, while in reality they do not think or care about 
you. More shame to them, but there it is. 

— Don't you think they should have had me in mind when they have a 
slaveholder and an eloquent apologist for his system speak on a Boston 
platform and expect him to be answered? 

— Perhaps. But since you are so upset about this, I'll tell you why you 
weren't asked. 

— Because I am about to be arrested and confined in a jail . . . hand- 
cuffed, on the way there, to some dirty pickpocket or rapist. I know why. 
I have lost the last claim to respectability. I am now no longer a traitor 
and infidel, but a felon: jail meat. 

— No . . . No. That's not it at all. It's because, and let me assure you 
these are not my words . . . it's because you keep a collection of scalps in 
your desk at the Music Hall. While we listen, you pull one out and shake 
it at us and then put it away. It is the scalp of a clergyman. Perhaps 
Stone's scalp. Pretty soon comes another and another. Scalps of marshals, 
of judges, of presidents even, all bloody and chewed up. People get satiated 


with scalps. . . . Every Sunday, scalps ... To see one once is impressive, 
but you shake so many of them . . . 

Parker sat down again in agony, groped for his watch, and started again 
to take his pulse. Howe went quickly to him, his face suddenly stricken 
with great unhappiness. He took Parker's hand away from his wrist and 
held it in his own hand, counting by the watch. Parker tried to pull it 
away but he held on. 

— Now I believe you did say it, said Parker in a choked voice. — Now I 
believe you did say the most terrible thing that has ever been said against 

— You must be quiet, Parkie. Your pulse is over a hundred. 

— You said that I was not religious enough for you. 
It came out as a kind of a cry, high and childish. 

— Be still, the doctor said, laying his head against Parker's heart. 
Higginson got up and went to the door. He had an impulse to flee. 

He looked over his shoulder at Parker sitting in his chair with his head 
thrown back and his eyes closed while Howe held his arms around him 
and his ear still at the sick man's tortured chest. Higginson opened the 
door. An old sweet song was being played on the new piano and someone 
was singing sad words over an undercurrent of happy laughter. 

Phillips drew him gently away from the door and closed it. — Just a 
word or two before you go, Tom. We must never pronounce the word 
Guilty of ourselves. Never. I shall not. I shall confess to all my speeches, 
yet maintain my innocence. We shall have to confess something, of course. 
Our doctrines . . . principles, the advice we gave. We shall never, any 
of us, deny this. But in your case, the gist of the matter is not your prin- 
ciple that you would resist the law, but the fact: did you resist? 

— Mr. Parker . . . What's the matter with him? 

— He's had a sick spell today. Nothing serious . . . Phillips smiled 
in his calm way at Tom. — You should avow all the time that you ap- 
proved what was done, but you must say, What is that to me, Tom Hig- 
ginson? Show that I did break through that door. I doubt that you can 
identify me at all. 

Dr. Howe was unbuttoning Parker's collar and shirt. The sweat was 
standing out on Parker's forehead. Dr. Howe began fanning him gently. 

Phillips went on; his tone was temperate but his voice had a hard edge 
as if he were trying to cut Tom away from his preoccupation with the man 
gasping in the chair. 

— The United States Government has hired only two rooms in the 
Courthouse. You had as much right as the Marshal himself to enter it. 

2 94 

Even if you confess the act, claim on other grounds you did not violate 
any law. 

— Confess the act? asked Tom in confusion. 

— Only after you have pleaded Not Guilty. By that means you will 
secure a jury. The jury might feel this law is unconstitutional. The best 
policy is to baffle the government by making them prove everything. This 
chance of preaching to a jury is perhaps the most important thing you 
have fought for. You will do all your honor and conscience can claim i£ 
you avow all you before professed but that you are innocent of this par- 
ticular charge. You will not only help the agitation by a trial but by beat- 
ing the government. A great point. 

Phillips opened the door. — And now you'd better run along. 

Higginson gave another glance back at Parker. Dr. Howe was looking 
intently down at him, stroking his beard with a puzzled look on his face. 
— Oh, about that night at the Courthouse . . . Tom said. 

— That you did not tell me or give me a chance to help you instead of 
making a fool of myself in Faneuil Hall ... I shall never forgive you. 

Phillips stopped a moment, looking back at Parker to see if he had 
heard. Then he gave Tom his hands ... — But I will say nothing more 
about it until we are both in jail and can discuss it at our leisure. 

— But I told Mr. Parker, blurted Tom. — Why didn't he ... ? 

— Sh, said Phillips. 

But it was too late. Parker had opened his eyes and was looking straight 
at Tom. He started to get up. Howe tried to hold him down but he pushed 
the doctor's hand away and stood up. — Tom, he said, walking painfully 
to the door. — There's something I wanted to tell you. What was it now? 
He rubbed his hand wearily over his bald head. 

— That's all right, sir. Don't bother with it now. Later. 

— But it's important. Oh yes. I haven't got it, but go to alcove twenty- 
four, shelf one hundred and thirty, of the College Library at Cambridge 
and you'll find it. It's a thick quarto, bound in vellum. The full title is 
Potgiesser de Statu Servorum. 

— Thank you, sir, said Tom. 

He looked sharply at Parker, trying to change his pity into resentment. 
But the last words had disarmed him. The dusk was deep by the door and 
it covered as dust does the petty details of a plaster cast of a classical statue, 
the surface play of the savagery and self-pity that had rippled over Parker's 
face in the moments just past. Now he could see only the revealment of 
the bare skull and the translucence of the skin over it, already showing 
the wasting away of the flesh beneath from the fire of the fever inside. 


He looked into the deep eye sockets; looked for the curtain of evasion, 
dropped by the final words. But in the clear eyes he saw that the question 
of the book had been the deep one resting there all the time and that the 
others had been as veils to be brushed aside. He saw that to Parker such 
crises were but interruptions and never ends in themselves. 

He saw the calm glint of eternal knowledge in Parker's eyes ... as 
darkness collects in the bottom of a deep well, the sum of light years 
from the stars. 





He was oppressed and he was afflicted, 
Yet he opened not his mouth. 
He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter 
And as a sheep before his shearers is dumb 
So he opened not his mouth. 

But he was wounded for our transgressions 
He was bruised for our iniquities 
The chastisement of our peace was upon him 
And with his stripes we are healed. 

Eight days out of Boston and the cutter was opposite the port city of 
Norfolk in Virginia. In celebration of the rendition, Asa and Riley were 
invited ashore and paraded through the streets in pomp, led by Norfolk's 
mayor, who assured them that he had nothing but the highest feeling of 
regard for them in spite of their point of origin. 

Tony, the prey dragged along in the train of the hunters, looked with 
new and wondering eyes at the town, finding it dirty and ill-arranged. 
He saw only one building that compared with the structures on the Boston 
streets, and had great difficulty in stepping over and around the filthy 
vegetable refuse and garbage that came from the country wagons bringing 
goods from the backlands for export. He looked apologetically into the 
embarrassed eyes of the scavenger cows who grazed through the town in 
the office of the turkey buzzard of the deeper South, munching on the 
gutter-slop of cabbage ends and slimy greens. 

The constables were taken to the hotel and given a sumptuous banquet 
and bed. Tony was thrown in the city jail with the appropriate reverse cere- 
mony, and kept there two days with one meal and no bed. 

On Monday, the voyage to Richmond was resumed and finally Tony 


was deposited in the common jail. A great many people came to look at 
him, not without awe, for his journey there had cost the government a 
sum ranging from Marshal Freeman's estimate of thirty thousand to a 
thumping round sum named by Governor Wise of Virginia as one hun- 
dred thousand dollars. So much for such a tranquil man, they wondered, 
no great shakes as a fighter, surely. What on earth had cost the state so 
much to bring him in ? 

The local papers tried to explain this by pointing out that he had been 
befriended by the Mad Parson. Measure this, they exhorted, against the 
cost of a skein of hangman's rope and see how uneconomical the country 
has become. The hanging of Parker and Phillips, aside from all patriotic 
and virtuous considerations, should be carried out for the good of the busi- 
ness of the firm of United States and People, and to insure the threatened 
prosperity of each one-twenty-millionth proprietor of it. And although 
Tony was not of the owning class, it must be confessed that he got a dour 
satisfaction out of the thought himself in some of the unchristian moods 
that came upon him as he watched less ambitious slaves walking in com- 
parative freedom in the streets of Richmond. 

Ten days after Tony had been there in the jail, William Brent came to 
see him. He was with a slave trader named Lumpkin. Tony was turned 
over to him for disposal, and he was given Tony's new suit and pocket 
money for his trouble. This was in consequence of an agreement he had 
made with Brent not to put Tony up for sale right away but to kick him 
around a bit before. It had to be a secret agreement, fed by a bribe, because 
Colonel Suttle wanted to sell the boy at once and get back the money he 
had laid out for the trip North. 

Lumpkin's jail was one of the sights of the capital. It was a handsome 
three-story brick structure, set in an acre of land and surrounded with a 
high fence which was topped by a thick-set column of iron spikes. Tony 
was put up into a tiny room, six feet square, directly under the roof of 
the jail. This room was accessible only through a trap door. It contained 
neither bed nor chair but there were two boards on low blocks and one 
blanket. For no extra charge, Lumpkin provided handcuffs and fetters 
for his feet. The heat under the roof in a Virginia summer would make 
his ankles swell and add to his punishment. The fetters also prevented 
him from removing his clothes for sanitary purposes and therefore would 
cause him to be in as revolting a condition externally as his mind must 
have been when he broke the law of God and man in his wretched flight. 
His food was not much of a problem. Since he could be fed with some 
corn bread and bacon shavings, he would need no fork, plate or knife and 

2 9 8 

the water could be left in a large bucket and replenished once or twice a 
week. Fresh water would be an idle gesture in that heat anyway and the 
contamination from his body itself and the foul and noisome creeping 
things that his personal filth provided would render his appetite insecure, 
to say the least. 

This treatment was well thought out: it was accumulative and would 
grow progressively worse instead of better, and it required no expendi- 
ture of energy in beatings. 

At first, he was taken out for the benefit of visitors who wished to see 
him and shout imprecations at him. But then he became so filthy and 
smelly that his appearance could not be laid at the door of natural in- 
dolence and the exhibitions were stopped. Lumpkin noted with satisfac- 
tion that this move disappointed Burns, and expressed wonder to his 
friends that a being could be so depraved that he would enjoy being 
brought in chains and filth before a company of berating enemies. But his 
hearers assured him that human loneliness was the most awful of scourges 
and, coupled with monotony of scene and diet, could cut deeper into the 
penitent than anything else. After that, Lumpkin took the most careful 
precautions against any communication between the other slaves and the 
man tainted inside with unholy freedom. 

But even then, Tony kept his place in the event for in every picture . . . 
as the ancients knew when they daubed their chronicles on the walls of 
their tombs . . . there must be the fundamental polarity of existence, the 
lion and the lamb, the leopard and the deer. And thus Tony, the submis- 
sive, the one everything was done unto, kept his polarity with Parker and 

There was no polarity between Hallett and Parker. Both were fierce and 
unprolific, a lion and a leopard, each guarding what they treasured from 
the prolific who might squander it with too much gendering. Hallett was 
every inch the stalking cat when Watson Freeman came to him to com- 
plain about the attitude of George Sanger, District Attorney of Suffolk 

The examination of the men who were arrested at the Courthouse had 
been held on June 6, and only four of them had been bound over to the 
grand jury for probable cause of murder. Three had been held over for 
riot, and the rest discharged entirely. 

— Why, Ben, why? wailed the Marshal. — They amended the charge 

2 99 

from murderous assault with firearms to murder with a sharp weapon, 
and then they let Hopewell go, the nigger that they caught with the 
sharp knife. 

— I don't know, said Ben, — but I'll damn sure find out. We'll have to 
get George Sanger over here to explain it. 

On the day and hour appointed, Ben, Queeny and Marshal Watson 
Freeman sat in silence in the office in the Courthouse. Watson was full 
of his usual frantic forebodings. Nick Queeny kept inspecting the crease 
in his new trousers, lifting each pantleg carefully as he crossed and re- 
crossed his nervous legs, and Ben rolled about in his oversize, custom- 
built armchair, reaching here and there over the wide desk for papers and 
notes which he had deployed in a wide arc before him like troops ready 
to do battle. 

Sanger had been walking aimlessly about the city for a half hour after 
his appointment. He meant to be late and he was, and when he finally 
came in, his hat thrust carelessly on the back of his head, he nodded curtly 
and sat down in a chair near the door, conspicuously without the circle 
of the conferees. 

George Sanger did not look like a prosecutor. He had a face so boyish 
and a smile so fleet and friendly it was hard to resist patting him on his 
curly head and giving him a piece of candy. To offset this he affected big 
black cigars which twisted the smooth, relaxed contours of his face into 
a worldly though artificial snarl. 

— Come closer, George, Ben said genially. — You're not in church. 

— I'm comfortable, Sanger said, leaning his chair back against the wall 
and puffing out clouds of smoke. 

A sharp spasm of anger and disapproval swept across Ben's face. He had 
an empty chair at his right elbow. Ben waved Nick into it. 

— You know the Marshal, of course, and this is Nick Queeny, Ben 

Queeny got up from his new position to cross to Sanger with out- 
stretched hand but Sanger merely took his cigar out with his right hand 
and flicked it at him. 

— One of Louis Varelli's boys? Sanger said. 

— Certainly not, Ben answered, as Nick backed into his chair again, a 
deeper red spreading over the hard pink of his bony face. — Mr. Queeny 
is being retained as a special deputy. Riley is still in Virginia with Asa 

— Being wined and dined, I suppose. 

— As befitting the material symbols of our willingness to see the laws 


of the land enforced, Ben said. He bent forward as Nick Queeny whis- 
pered hotly in his ear. 

— Oh, I don't think that's necessary, Mr. Queeny, Ben said, then turned 
to Sanger. — Mr. Queeny wanted me to assure you that he is not asso- 
ciated with Louis Varelli, a rather gratuitous denial considering the very 
real service Mr. Varelli has done the Commonwealth in the days just past. 

— Well, I must admit he's been a big help to my department. We 
haven't had a robbery or a rape case come in since his gang took over the 
Courthouse. It must be confusing for the boys just the same to be paid for 
doing things for the last ten days that they've been arrested for in the last 
ten years. 

— Now listen, Sanger, Ben said. — I don't know what you've got against 
me personally, but let's drop it for now. By virtue of my office I have to 
do the same thing in the Circuit Court grand jury as you do in the District 
Court. There's been a serious crime committed here in your jurisdiction 
against an officer of the United States and I have the right to demand your 

— Since when has an unemployed teamster been an officer of the 
United States? 

Ben pulled over a paper from his documentary redoubt. — I have here 
an opinion from Attorney General Cushing that any and all men called 
upon by the United States Marshal to aid in apprehending a fugitive are 
officers of the United States Government. 

— All right. Let's transfer the whole thing to the Circuit Court. Sanger 
rocked his chair back to the floor with a thud and stood ready to leave. 
— I'll send the records over to you in an hour or so. 

— I'm afraid your records won't tell me the whole story, Sanger. I have 
an idea that they will be, shall we say, incomplete. 

— Are you trying to teach me my business? said Sanger. 

— I wouldn't think of it, said Ben with a smirk. — From what I hear, 
your business is very good. It's your law I'm worried about. 

Sanger turned deliberately, sat again in the chair, took off his hat and 
laid it on the floor, looked briefly at the ceiling, and said: — Hallett, I 
know you like to goad people and I'm not going to feed your vanity by 
being insulted. Goad all you like. I'll sit here as long as you want me to, 
but I promise you I won't give a damn. 

— Then it must be true that you're going to be made a judge in a month 
or so and don't have to worry as much about your job as I do. 

— It is true that I might get an appointment. But I don't think I'll have 
to knuckle down to you because of it. Or do I? 


— You know I'd never stand in a man's way, George, when he's des- 
tined for higher things; but just as a matter of professional curiosity will 
you tell me why, out of eleven men held without bail for murder twelve 
days, only four of them were sent up to the grand jury? 

— Because of professional courtesy, Mr. Hallett. Because the United 
States District Attorney came crying to the coroner and said he couldn't 
do his job unless these men were locked up on a trumped-up charge of 
murder by firearms. Is this the thanks I'm going to get, Hallett? How 
would you like to stand up in Court and ask the Judge to amend a charge 
of murder by firearms to murder by an entirely different weapon after 
you had held men for twelve days? 

— A technicality like that wouldn't bother me in the least, said Ben. 
— But if I had the men involved there, men that were caught red-handed 
at the scene of the crime, I wouldn't be able to lift my head again after 
seeing two thirds of them set free. 

— Red-handed, my foot. Was a man named Walter Phoenix red- 
handed when he threw a brick or Albert Browne or John Wesley when 
they did the same? Was Henry Howe when he called for a rescue or 
Johnny Cluer when he made a speech? What about John Robert, ar- 
rested for putting out the gaslight ten minutes before the attack even took 
place? Are their hands dyed with blood? Even the men bound over 
had clean hands. Three of them were arrested carrying a battering 
ram and one had an ax. Do you want their names? Do you want to 
ask them how they could let go of their burden long enough to stab 
someone ? 

— I know their names, said Ben. — On the ram, Bishop and Jackson, 
colored; Morrison, white. The Chief testified Stowell carried an ax. We 
think he had a gun. 

— Have you got a better witness than the Chief of Police ? 

— Not at the moment. He isn't the only officer the aldermen have 
bought and paid for. 

— Then that's all you know about them, Hallett. They're just names 
with nothing behind them, no previous record, no organizational connec- 
tions, nothing. You got me over to press the murder charge before the 
grand jury. Could you make murder out a series of such trivial, discon- 
nected acts? 

— Yes, yes, said Ben quickly. — They were not disconnected acts. They 
were performed in concert. They were part of a scheme. 

— We claimed that, said Sanger. — Both Chief Taylor and myself, but 
the judge disallowed it. 


— I know, said Ben craftily. — You claimed that they were performed 
in concert, but you did not give the name of the leader of the band. 

— If you're talking about Theodore Parker, he wasn't even there. 

— Strange you should mention that name, Mr. Sanger. You must have 
been reading my mind. 

— Not at all. I merely read his sermon of last Sunday. He's the one who 
is reading your mind. 

Watson laughed. It was a dry cackle and it brought a faint redness to 
Ben's face. Ben gave him an angry look and then glanced down at a paper 
folded back on his desk. He began to read from it. — To support an in- 
dictment under the law it is not necessary to prove the accused used or 
even threatened violence. If they are leagued in the common design and 
so situated as to be able, in case of need, to afford assistance to those ac- 
tually engaged, although they do not actually resist or oppose, although no 
act is done by them, they are still guilty under the law. 

— That's your opinion, Hallett. I wouldn't give two cents for it. 

— Oh, no, it's not, said Ben shaking his jowls. — I should not presume, 
as a mere Brown University graduate, to instruct you. This happens to be 
the charge delivered by a justice of the Supreme Court. This is the way 
Justice Curtis is handling the case before my grand jury. I happen to 
think it has some merit. He is, like yourself, a graduate of Harvard, and 
considered one of the finest legal minds in the country. 

— So he is. So he is. I grovel in the light of his juridical fire. But what 
has it got to do with my case? What's the connection? 

— It has everything to do with your case. You have under arrest a 
group of men who have performed a series of acts, petty in themselves but 
linked to a common design that resulted in a murder of a United States 
officer. You have lost the case before it is even tried because you have not 
arrested, or even named, the leader of the design. This case is nothing 
without Parker . . . everything with him. 

Sanger began to look worried. — Let me have a copy of that charge 
for a moment, Ben, he said in assumed carelessness. Ben threw a copy of 
the Boston Post of June 7 over at him. 

— The fact that he wasn't in the square at the time of the arrest is cov- 
ered by the next paragraph, said Ben. — And therefore, in pursuance of the 
same rule, not only those who are present but those who, though absent 
when the offense was committed, did procure, counsel, command or abet 
others to commit the offense are indictable as principles. 

Sanger threw the paper to the floor. He was beginning to show a lack 
of composure. — But Parker specifically did not counsel an attack. 


He spoke against it. I heard him. If you must know, I was there too. 

— What are you so excited about, Mr. Sanger? asked Ben in a soft 
voice. — Are you giving up your office to defend Mr. Parker? 

Sanger picked up his hat and looked into it, studying the lining, trying 
to hide the concern on his face from Ben. — No, no, but this charge is too 
broad. My God, my seventy-six-year-old grandmother, who is incidentally 
a parishioner of the clergyman in question, stood in front of the Court- 
house four days and broke the law under these terms. Do you want me to 
find a bill against her ? She'll turn herself in when she reads this, damned 
if she don't. 

— I'll make every effort to see that your grandmother gets off with a 
light sentence, George. Now to continue with Justice Curtis. The real 
question is, did the accused command, counsel or abet the offense com- 
mitted ? If he did, it is of no importance that his advice or directions were 
departed from in respect to the time or place or precise mode or means of 
committing it. He is by the common law an accessory before the fact, and 
by the laws of the United States and of this state, punishable to the same 
extent as the principal felon. 

Ben stopped and sighed in admiration over the charge. He laid the 
paper down reverently and then underlined every word of the last para- 

Sanger got to his feet, throwing his hat down on the chair. He now felt 
the full force of Ben's malignancy and realized that he himself would be 
in jeopardy if he underestimated his power. 

— You want to prove murder in the lower court but it's not going to be 
easy. The police themselves testified that of the four we have in custody, 
three were holding a beam and the fourth an ax. We haven't found the 
murder weapon, or the man who carried it. 

— You have a warrant out for a fifth man, haven't you, Mr. Sanger? 
said Ben smoothly. 

— Yes. Well, it's no secret. There was a hit at him in the Post this 
morning. We are holding a warrant for another clergyman from 
Worcester. He happens to be from one of the most honored and respected 
families in the state and we want to go easy for a while. Besides, Worcester 
is a little hot right now. We don't want to poke around there at the mo- 

Ben smiled. — I'm proud and happy to say, sir, that it won't be neces- 
sary. We have a witness who happened to be present at the moment that 
not only can identify the clergyman in question but who saw him dis- 
cussing the case in most incriminating terms with the Faneuil Hall orator 


this Sunday last, thus proving beyond the shadow o£ a doubt that there 
was a plan connecting the meeting with the attack and the subsequent 
murder of Batchelder. 

— Give me his name, said Sanger wearily, — and I'll make out a sub- 

— That won't be necessary, Hallett said. — It's Mr. Queeny here and 
he'll gladly testify. 

Sanger picked up his hat and put it on his head. 

— Then you'll take steps to issue a warrant for our Boston clergyman. 

— No, Sanger said finally, letting his anger slip. — We've got nothing 
on him now. If the grand jury hands down a bill on the four, he'll be 
arrested as an accessory, but we've got to indict the principals first. 

— Oh, come now, Sanger, Ben said. — Here we have his sermons. 
Here's one he gave Sunday last. The Marshal was resisted, there's no 
doubt of that, and here's evidence of counsel to resist before and after the 
fact. This man has urged resistance hundreds of times. 

— What do you want him arrested for, a felony or a misdemeanor? 
Resistance to the Marshal is a misdemeanor . . . right? 

— Good point . . . good point, Ben said, mollified. — Let's wait a bit 
and make it a felony. 

— Although you have no jurisdiction over murder in the Circuit Court. 

— We'll charge treason, Mr. Sanger. You murder, we treason. Twin 
flowers on a single stem. 

— He's sick now, Sanger said. — Perhaps we could get a doctor to cer- 
tify him as having cholera and throw him in the pesthouse in the mean- 

Watson rose from his torpor, eyes blazing, and rushed into the breach. 

— Doctors . . . God-damned doctors are no damn good. They're all 
traitors. I know damn well the man was killed by a pistol ball. They're 
saying it was a knife wound just so as to blame my men for it. But we're 
going to say there wasn't a man with a knife or a blade on him until 
after Batchelder got it . . . and I've got forty men to swear to it. Fifty 
men I can get if I want. 

— The whole guard, said Sanger. 

— That's right, Watson answered, disregarding the irony. — And they 
weren't drunk neither. Nobody can prove that they were drunk. 

— All right, Watson, Ben said. — All right. I guess that's all, Mr. San- 
ger. Are there any more questions? 

— One more, said Sanger, smiling a bit. — What have you got against 
Parker that you hate him so? 


— I don't hate him, Ben said. — I don't hate him personally. 

— Strangely enough, I believe you, Sanger said. — I know what's in 
that head of yours. You used to be one of them, didn't you? Don't deny 
it, Ben. People haven't got such short memories as you think. I've read 
Abolitionist speeches by you. They're still around. 

Ben flushed and looked anxiously at Nick Queeny. Nick's eyes were 
fixed on him in wonder. 

— When I was a kid I went to a big meeting once. It was in Faneuil 
Hall. It was to protest the murder of Lovejoy. It was the first time Wendell 
Phillips ever spoke in the anti-slavery line. He was in the audience, but 
you were on the platform. You were one of the elect. You read a speech 
that was written by Dr. Channing. You were Garrison's right-hand man 
at one time. You speak with the frenzy of an apostate trying to clean 
your skirts. No wonder, Ben. God pity Parker and company! 

Ben got to his feet. He threw back his shoulders like a huge baited 
animal. His backward thrust sent his chair rolling over onto Watson's toe. 
But his arms hung at his side and he swung helplessly toward his paper 
weapons stacked on the desk, almost unconsciously clutching and sliding 
them as if they were rocks to hurl at his attacker. Finally he got himself 
under control and began to read aloud, in a wheezy tone, Justice Curtis's 
charge, trying to shut out with his broad back the triumphant, piercingly 
keen look of George Sanger. 

Sanger sat smiling now, watching the wounded whale in its travail. 
Watson pushed the chair back under Ben's rump and Ben sat. 

— These are my motives, Sanger, Ben stammered breathlessly, — and 
no other. He began to read again: 

If you or I begin to discriminate between one law and another 
and say, This we shall enforce and this we shall not, we not only 
violate our oaths but we should destroy the liberties of our country 
which rest on the great principle that country is governed by laws 
constitutionally acted and not by men. 

This government would cease to be a government if it were to 
yield obedience to the strongest faction of the place and hour. If 
forcible resistance to the law be permitted practically to repeal it, 
the power of the mob would overrule the state and be used against 
any law or man obnoxious to the interests and passions of the worst 
or most excited part of the community and the peaceful and the 
weak would be at the mercy of the violent. 

And it becomes all to remember and act accordingly, that forcible 


and concerted resistance to any law is civil war, which can make no 
progress but through bloodshed and can have no termination but the 
destruction of the government of our country or the ruin of those 
engaged in such resistance. 

— No, Ben, said Sanger. — That's not it. You don't believe that. That's 
not the apostate's creed. You're a liar, Ben. 

— And so are you, Sanger, and false to your oath. And if these indict- 
ments are let fall as I am told that they will, if you are made a judge, I'll 
see that the whole country knows about it. 

— I couldn't get the indictments dropped if I wanted to. Even though 
they are innocent, as I think they are, and the man was killed by the 
Marshal's drunken guard. You'll get your indictment and your hanging 
too. You've got, besides the Supreme Court justice's most learned and 
patriotic charge, fifty witnesses to swear that there wasn't anything sharper 
than a toothpick used to defend the Courthouse door. . . . You've got the 
corpse of a sworn deputy to lay in the laps of the jury, with an eight-inch 
hole in his belly. Now you are going to throw in the name of a man who 
admits to perjury and who had six fugitives sitting on the platform be- 
hind him while he addressed the biggest congregation in Boston ... a 
man who wrote the President of the United States and told him he had 
fugitives hiding in his attic and dared him to come and take them at the 
peril of his life ... a man who is introduced at a great public gathering 
by his best friend as a traitor and infidel and a fanatic. ... If there is one 
orthodox minister, one priest, one merchant, one Irishman, or anyone 
who reads the newspapers of Boston on the grand jury, you'll get your 
true bill and your hanging . . . and God have mercy on your soul. 

The door slammed hard behind District Attorney Sanger. 
After a brief silence Ben said, — Well, we got his goat but very little 

There comes a time when even the greatest filth withers into dryness and 
becomes harmless husks, and maggots can be looked on as friends, no worse 
than the scavenger cows of the Norfolk streets. When the body is backed 
to its limit into the hole and the senses, no longer stretched behind like 
frightened sensitive antennae brushing the features of unknown horrors, 
start weaving forward again, there is an upwardness coming to the pattern 
of life. The very wetness of water has its joy, and the feel of eatable, crunch- 
able bulk between the teeth and on the tongue gives a deep functional way 
of marking the passage of time. 


Tony woke one morning, the rising heat his clock, and rolled over 
toward the water bucket. On one of his turns his nose was sharply tickled 
by a most pungent, acrid and most delicious smell. It was the unfamiliar 
odor of soap, compounded of clean ashes and lye. It came so strongly upon 
him, it made him sneeze. He sniffed after it like a hungry hound, and 
found it coming up through a large crack in the floor that he had not 
noticed before but which might have just sprung in the heat of July. 

In the room below he saw a yellow woman and a black one drawing 
some rags in and out of a bucket of hot sudsy water. They were both con- 
cubines of Mr. Lumpkin, the only wives he had . . . being shunned as he 
was, because of his unfortunate profession, by the white women of the 
town. As Tony watched, a young mulatto girl entered the room from a 
door situated so as to give a view of her back only, and stepped upon a 
small platform directly under the crack in the floor. 

At a gesture from the yellow woman, the girl swept her flimsy dress up 
over her head and oft, standing naked before them. She piled her hair high 
on her head and stood quietly with her arms raised, holding it like a coil 
of black ribbon directly beneath Tony's astonished eyes. 

Mrs. and Mrs. Lumpkin toted the bucket to the block and began to swab 
at the girl's body with their soapy cloths. The girPs skin was of a yellowish 
bronze tint and it began to shine under the water and then the water dried 
and left it as soft and bland as the shell of a boiled egg when it leaves the 
saucepan, cupped in a spoon. 

Tony reveled at first in the fragrance and ear-tickling slosh of the water 
but then he began to feel the pull of the girl's nude body. Suddenly, as she 
stood there so supinely, her weight held on her right leg, her left elbow 
high in a lovely thrust arching up through her back from her tense round 
buttock, he thought of a girl he had known and loved before he had started 
North. It had been a choice at that time, vexing and difficult. She had 
wanted him to stay and be her husband in the terms of the customary slave 
marriage, necessarily one of convenience, but he had refused and gone 
North instead. 

At the thought of the choice he made, so bitter and barren, Tony rolled 
away from the peephole, seeking the concentration to reproach himself 
and curse all of the steps that had left him in this unhappy plight. Now the 
hopelessness of his piety finally stood revealed unto him and he invoked 
the devil in himself, saying that since all who served you prosper, so will I. 
The devil in him answered promptly enough, telling him that the naked 
girl below was the same one he had rejected not six months before and 
urged him to peek again and count the blessings one by one that he had 


so foolishly swept aside to end as the helpless dupe of the Mad Parson o£ 
Boston and his friends. 

Tony rolled back to the space in the floor and looked down at the girl. 
He was now inflamed and the naked back did look like the back of his 
beloved. And so did the lift of her breast and the bud of the nipple and the 
long bending, pliant, yielding neck. 

Now the women were scrubbing at the interstices of the body from head 
to toe, flooding them, soaping them, washing them clean and fragrant, in 
the ironic preparation for the act that was called unclean in the text of his 

After the women had dried the girl in a soft blanket of wool, they 
brought over two jars of rosewater and began to anoint her. The new 
fragrance came up to Tony, the devil blessing his nose. 

One of them went to a window out of his eye range and motioned for 
their husband to come up and shortly after Mr. Lumpkin came into the 
room with a small, jolly, roly-poly man with a sweet, pink face and long 
floating patriarchal white hair. 

The women left and Lumpkin and his customer looked in silence at the 
girl on the block. Lumpkin said nothing, merely waving his hand in her 
direction with gracious pride. 

— I buy a wench like this once a year, said the little pink man. — Then, 
around the Fourth of July, I bring her home and introduce her to my wife. 
I tell her it's to show my independence. 

Mr. Lumpkin laughed heartily at this witty sally. Tony squirmed in 
agony. That was mine, he wanted to shriek, and given willingly where you 
have to buy it. That is what we have and that is what keeps us from band- 
ing together and destroying all of you. 

He struggled to his feet, the chains clanking, and began to tear the clothes 
off him, the ragged shirt and the filthy trousers. He crumpled the shirt into 
a ball and dipped it into the fetid water. He swayed back and forth on his 
raw chafed ankles and scrubbed at the crusty filth on his legs. He clawed 
at his scabs, refreshed by the clean show of blood. Then a great hand 
seemed to pinch his neck and he fell headlong to the floor, but before the 
continuing blackness came his eye peered through the crack in the floor 
and he looked straight into the eyes of the frightened mulatto wench. She 
was a stranger and not his beloved. 

Lumpkin threw the girl her tattered gown and pushed her out of the 
room with her frightened new master. With a tremendous heave, he man- 
aged to throw open the trap door on which Tony had been cast. At first he 
thought this valuable slave was dead, but when he had ordered a candle 


and examined him, he found it was only some kind of stroke and brought 
up some broth from his own table to feed him with. 

In the dark whirlwind of his swoon Tony heard a voice saying, Defend 
yourself, defend yourself; you have friends in court, lawyers, thousands, 
do you want us to defend you, to save you? 

And he saw the face of the preacher whom he had trusted, because he 
was innocent and deserved no chastisement for sin . . . not knowing that 
this prophet maintained that it was precisely the function of the innocent 
to suffer for the guilty and the good are those who give their lives for 
others, and that vicarious righteousness is nowhere near as pleasing to God 
as a sacrificial act even unto the shedding of blood and death. 




He hath torn me in his wrath, and persecuted me; 

He hath gnashed upon me with his teeth: 

Mine adversary sharpeneth his eyes upon me. 

They have gaped upon me with their mouth; 

They have smitten me upon the chee\ reproachfully: 

They gather themselves together against me. 

God deliver eth me to the ungodly, 

And casteth me into the hands of the wicked. 

I was at ease, and he bro\e me asunder; 

Yea, he hath ta\en me by the nec\, and dashed me to pieces: 

He hath also set me up for his mar\ 

His archers compass me round about, 

He cleaveth my reins asunder, and doth not spare; 

He pour eth out my gall upon the ground. 

Although there is no violence in mine hands, 

And my prayer is pure. 

Lydia Parker, for once in her life, put her foot down and made her hus- 
band stay off the streets and out of meeting halls to rest and bring down 
his pulsebeat. It was a trial to her to have him home all day, because he 
either sat in the kitchen and teased her and interfered with her work or 
else went up to his study and wrote prodigiously long letters against the 
doctor's orders. 

There were three women in the household. Besides his wife, there was 
a woman to do the hard tasks that Lydia couldn't, and Miss Hannah 
Stevenson. Miss Stevenson was Parker's secretary. She was a prim blue- 
stocking, a few years older than Parker, and she adored him. She liked to 
work beside him and keep up with his fast flow of thought and show him 
that she was just as good as a man in the intellectual arena. But Parker 
cared very little about this, other than conceding her great service, and she 
knew she would never be just as good as the woman in the kitchen. 


Lydia used to get him to go next door on the days she was baking bread 
to see Wendell Phillips. But Phillips's house was to Parker the saddest one 
in Boston. Ann Phillips had been an invalid since their marriage and lived 
out a vegetative life in the second-floor back and front chambers. She saw 
no one and was always crying about her headaches and her invalidism. 
While Parker was there, she would have Wendell on the run every minute 
making tea and fetching this and that. He would leave Parker in the midst 
of a dissertation to run down to the market for the best strawberries before 
they were all pawed over, asking Parker to wait until he got back. 

Parker never waited. There were no books there. The first floor had a 
perpetual air of neglect. There were no visual pleasantries to tempt the eye 
of a caller. Parker's house was just the opposite. It was open to all comers. 
The table was always being set. The beds were always being aired and 
changed for guests, and books tumbled down at every incautious step. 
Things were always a little out of repair and the absent-minded master of 
the house would leave a hammer, some putty and tacks beside a cracked 
window for days on end until the putty became as dry and hard as cement, 
when Lydia was at last able to drive him to fix it. 

Parker had sense enough not to be sorry for Wendell. Ann Phillips never 
interfered with her husband's beliefs or the lengths he went to espouse 
them. She lay in her bed like a sleeping beauty. She was blonde, big-eyed, 
and long-lashed, with the body of a Juno which never wasted or grew old 
and which clung to her nightgown with a firmness which seemed to say 
— This is my purpose, let the world go by. 

His visits to his friend were not enough to take up the slack of his mind. 
He found that when he slept, he did not rise refreshed. One day he was 
called upon by some people who did not believe in God, to say a few words 
over a departed one for decency's sake. He knew he had to go, because 
there was no one else they could ask. He was their idea of a minimum of 
a minister and he had to give them a maximum of comfort because they 
were bereft, unlike the others, of the comforting faith in immortality. 
There he prayed, — Oh God, though they have denied thy existence, yet 
they have obeyed thy law. 

And through it all he was preoccupied with a problem that ate up his 
hours in a great circle, returning each morning with as great a hunger as 
the day before. He had a note about it on his desk hidden under some 
books so Lydia couldn't see it: 

What am I to do if I am sent to jail. I. Write one sermon a week 
and have it read at the Music Hall and printed the next morning. 


Who can read it? 2. Write memoirs of Life, etc. 3. Write volume 
one of Historical Development of Religion, i.e. the Metaphysics of 
Religion. 4. Learn Russian. 

His thoughts often returned to the second point. Who could he get to 
read the sermons or even give one of his own if he were to be unable to 
write one? Since he had been dropped from the Unitarian Fellowship, 
there was only one preacher who would exchange with him. He set down 
his name : 

James Freeman Clarke 

He paused and felt one of his besetting sorrows : that he had no young 
men rising up to take ground with him. Still there was one and he wrote 
down his name: 

Thomas Wentworth Higginson of Worcester 

Now he had to turn to the outcasts, but they were fitting teachers to 
stand at the desk of an outcast church. 

Wendell Phillips of Boston 

W. L. Garrison of Boston 

Ralph Waldo Emerson of Concord 

It was a pitiful list. Pitiful because, after his almost twenty years as a 
minister, these five men were all he dared trust in his place, or what was 
worse, even dared to ask. He looked at the list again and struck out two of 
the names. Thomas Wentworth Higginson — out. Wendell Phillips — out. 
They would be doing their preaching on a rock pile at Charlestown re- 
membering their brother as bound with him. 

He spent most of his time trying to winnow down from thirteen thou- 
sand books and five hundred pamphlets a small pack that he could take 
into the penitentiary with him. It was quite a task. 

He had skimmed off thousands in the boiling process and on this certain 
morning was opening his mail and thinking that it might be possible to 
have shelves put up in his cell. He had, with his overrich imagination, iden- 
tified his proposed domicile in Charlestown with a small, high-ceilinged, 
whitewashed room, very sparse and clean, with a tiny barred window to 
admit faint starlight, where he could sit in blessed solitude and contempla- 
tion, like Luther, and finish his book. 

This book was to be the record and point-by-point rejection of all the 
superstitions and phobias that had crept into every religion since the begin- 
ning of time, presented so as to guide people into the true and simple ac- 


ceptance of an infinite God, forever loving and without vengeance. He had 
spent most of his free time and money collecting books of reference, and 
now it was maddening that he was to have the time and solitude to write it 
in but couldn't take the books. 

Mrs. Parker heard someone at the door and she went to open it. A man 
with two children stood there. One of the children was a boy of eight 
named Lloyd after Garrison and the other was a beautiful, sunny-faced girl 
of five named Abigail. The man, who was a neighbor, asked to see Mr. 
Parker, and Lydia, because of the children, let him go upstairs, knowing 
their presence would offset any excitement their father would bring to 
bear on her invalid. 

Parker was overjoyed to see them of course, and watched with delight 
the boy's beeline for a secretary in the corner where he kept a rich store 
of carts, toys, horses, miniature farmhouses and dozens of little carved 

But his father, eschewing the futile command, pulled the boy back by 
his collar saying that there was no time for play, that they had to get back 
to the house. The man laughed at Parker's crestfallen look, deeper than the 
boy's, and stated his business. 

He was a trustee and shareholder of the Music Hall and had begun to 
suspect that the Curtises were up to some skulduggery to get Parker out 
of there by canceling the lease of the Twenty-Eighth Congregational So- 

— It's possible, it's possible, said Parker unhappily. — Sit down a bit and 
tell me the whole story. 

— It seems there's a meeting of the trustees today. I only heard about it 
by luck. They're generally only held to hear the financial report and Mr. 
Curtis sent the report out this year as a letter. This was about a week ago, 
and most of us figured it wasn't necessary to go to the meeting. 

— Is it customary to send out the financial report? Parker asked. 

— No. They've never done it before. I was quite upset about it, because 
. . . well . . . He stopped a little embarrassed. 

— You know they want to pitch me out of there, Parker said. 

— Yes, yes, the man said. — They tried it last year, and we defeated them 
with a block of a hundred votes held by a party now resident in Europe 
who had signed them over to us as proxies in your favor. 

— I know the party, Parker said. — Doesn't he like me any more? Been 
reading the papers I suppose. 

— No, it's not that. As far as I know his feelings are the same, but when 
I went to see his agent yesterday, acting on this vague suspicion I have, the 


agent said he had given them over to a nephew o£ the President. Do you 
make anything sinister out of that? 

— Why, yes. I don't imagine any relative of Franklin Pierce would relish 
my presence in that pulpit if he could prevent it. 

— You know, that occurred to me after I left but at the time it didn't 
mean anything. As a matter of fact, I thought he was referring to the 
President of the College. 

Parker smiled wryly. 

— Unfortunately the meeting is in a half hour. If any of your friends 
hold shares, get them to go down at once and we might be able to hold the 
fort. I'm awfully sorry. I thought I'd better tell you. 

Parker finally gave in to a desire that had been plaguing him and laid a 
light hand on the curly blond head of the little girl. — I'm afraid it's too 
late for me to do anything now, and I doubt that I would if I had the time. 
I'll miss the Music Hall but there are other places. 

— I might be able to arrange for you to get the Masonic Temple. I'm 
going through the chairs now and I'm pretty important. 

— We asked for the Temple before and it was refused us. They said it 
would injure the reputation of the house. I sometimes think I would be of 
more service to folks if I didn't have a church. I'd like to preach in the 
streets sometime. Most of the listeners in the Music Hall don't need me 
any more. Fd like to talk to the people who never get into any church. 

— Well, good-by, sir. I'll do my best for you. 

— Thank you. But don't make yourself any enemies over it or do any- 
thing to hurt your trade. You've probably heard I might be over at the 
State Penitentiary before long. 

— As a chaplain? 

— As a guest. 

The man turned sadly away taking his children by the hand. The boy 
pulled away. The father made a grab for him longing to give him a cuff, 
but was restrained by Parker's look of love bent on the children. 

— Go along with your father now, Lloyd. But I want you and Abby to 
come back sometime soon and we'll take everything out of the old secre- 
tary and put them all over the floor. 

— When ? said the boy. — When can we come ? 

— This afternoon if your mother will let you. This afternoon at four. 
The boy looked up at his father. — Yes, you can come. You and Abby 

can come. 

The children left happily and Parker shouted after them, — And bring 
every chum you can find along with you. 


He went back to his desk, took up a pencil and paper and began to write 
down the names of stockholders he knew who could be immediately in- 
formed and sent to the meeting. But after he had scribbled down four or 
five names, a great lassitude overtook him and he laid his head on the 
cool wood of the desk. . . . No, no more. I shall fight this no more. I'm 
tired and sick of these plots and counterplots. He tore the paper into tiny 
pieces. After a moment or two he put on his slouch hat and took up his 
stick and walked down the stairs to the front door. As he opened it he 
heard Lydia call frantically. 

— Where are you going, dear ? 

— I'm going over to Charlestown to pick out my room, he said in such 
tired and world-weary tones that she stood in amazement and did nothing 
to restrain his going. 

When Mr. Butler, Parker's friend, got to the Music Hall for the meeting, 
he found, as he had feared, only twelve people in attendance. He sat down 
at the huge directors' table as Charles Curtis ran quickly through the finan- 
cial report. Mr. Butler kept looking at the door, hoping that Parker would 
be able to send reinforcements. Curtis seemed to know what he was 
up to, because after making some offhand remark about being pressed 
for time and anxious to wind up the proceedings, he passed the gavel 
over to his son-in-law, William Greenough, and prepared to address the 

Butler looked around the table at the others. They sat impassively, wholly 
devoid of interest in the proceedings. There was nothing to arouse them at 
this meeting. Attendance was a civic gesture, the whole thing was as cut- 
and-dried as the meetings of the Hospital Committee, the Female Orphan 
Asylum, the Trustees of the Blind School and all the other worthy Boston 
institutions that made such public office a private bore. 

He searched their bland faces for some key to an affinity with Parker 
and what he stood for. In all but one face he found nothing. This was the 
seamed and craggy face of Zenas Mudge, a huge, awkward, long-nosed, re- 
tired farmer from out Saugus way. Where the rest were barbered, he was 
rough. His lapels and shirtfront were stained with snufif and huge tufts of 
yellow-stained hair jetted out of his cavelike nostrils. 

He might be for Parker, Butler thought, and then smiled at himself at 
the insult to his clerical friend. Why? Because he is dirty and unkempt, 
foul-smelling and rude in speech and gesture? There was an unpleasant 
underlying truth in this. But he did not probe it deeper but put down the 


sense of affinity to the point that Zenas's appearance showed that he did 
not conform. 

Mr. Charles P. Curtis, after offering regrets that his other son-in-law, 
Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Curtis, could not be there because of the 
pressure of official business, launched into a quiet-toned but florid descrip- 
tion of the manner and motives behind the building and operating of the 
Music Hall. He told of how he and Jonas Chickering, the great piano 
manufacturer, had decided that Boston needed a great and beautiful edifice 
in which to make a home for the musical concerts and other cultural de- 
lights that made Boston the modern Athens and the peer of the world in 
the realm of music and art, having, as it were, all the visual beauty of Paris 
without its degrading immorality and all the musical zeal and striving of 
Berlin without its vain, unrepublican pomp and militarism. 

— But unfortunately by an unwise decision to lease the Hall for Sunday 
morning services to the Twenty-Eighth Congregational Society, the repu- 
tation of the Music Hall as a place where cultured Bostonians can go to 
bask in the peace and exultation induced by the healing strains of noble 
and lofty music has been replaced in the public eye by the feeling that 
the Music Hall has become a muddy fountain for the dissemination 
of sentiments which are, to say the least, subversive of law and order. 
He therefore moved that the lease of the society in question be canceled 

Chairman Greenough, pro tern, opened the discussion and the question 
was asked if it was not true that a considerable proportion of the income 
derived from the Hall came from the Congregational Society. 

This question, being put to Mr. Curtis, was answered by that gentleman 
with the remark that although the Society paid . . . and promptly, he 
might add in all fairness . . . twenty-five hundred dollars a year not in- 
cluding extras, there had been times when people who desired to give con- 
certs had been turned away due to the pre-occupation of this Society, and 
it was doubtless true that many prospective rentees were discouraged from 
applying by the unsavory reputation the Hall was beginning to acquire. 

Someone asked if it were not true that to cancel the lease might give the 
public the effect that the trustees were against one form or another of reli- 
gion, and draw inferences very unfortunate at a time when the poorer 
classes needed the comfort and control of righteousness more than at any 
other in our nation's history? 

— Certainly not, said Charles somewhat heatedly. — This edifice was 
built for the sole purpose of containing and improving the musical and 
artistic life of Boston. As for the religious matter, it is a well-known opin- 


ion in Boston, an opinion held by clergymen themselves, that the leader o£ 
this Society is an avowed infidel. 

Curtis stopped for a moment, waiting for someone to second the motion, 
but there was utter silence. He searched their faces for approval. There 
was none. He began again. 

— It is bitterly embarrassing for me, gentlemen, to have to bring person- 
alities into this discussion, but I know you will forgive me if I make some 
forthright remarks about Mr. Theodore Parker, the so-called minister of 
this congregation. Although knowing that my family contributed heavily 
to the financing of the Music Hall, he persistently and shamelessly attacks 
them from its pulpit. He uses it for the slander and denunciation of my- 
self, my kinsmen and my friends. He stands there, Sunday after Sunday, 
in front of what is virtually an unwashed rabble, and carries on a reign 
of terror from the pulpit of the largest edifice in Boston. He stands there 
like a Robespierre, denouncing and sending to the guillotine whole fami- 
lies of the best citizens of Boston. 

He stopped and bowed his gray hairs in sorrow. — Only two Sundays 
ago, he called my brother a murderer. 

He sat down. Nobody had seconded the motion. He took the gavel away 
from Greenough. Now Greenough, gavel-less, said faintly, — I second the 

— Any further discussion ? said Charles. 

The clock ticked, the moments dragged, no one spoke. Inside Butler's 
breast a storm was raging. Should he speak up in Mr. Parker's defense? 
He had just bought a wool brokerage and needed influential friends. In 
fact, he had bought a share or two of the Music Hall stock just to be able 
to sit around this table with these people and share in their deliberations 
and maybe catch a few crumbs. Then he decided. He would speak for Mr. 
Parker if someone else would lead the parade. But not alone. He knew 
Mr. Parker would understand. Mr. Parker loved his two children almost 
as much as he did. Mr. Parker wouldn't want their futures jeopardized. 

Just as Charles's gavel was about to fall and call for the vote, Zenas 
Mudge spoke up as though he, in his cussedness, had been waiting for the 
most awkward moment. He stood up at the table and fixed his eyes oflf 
somewhere, put his thumbs in his vest, took his regular town meeting 
stance, and began to talk. At first, Butler was greatly encouraged. 

— In regards to religion, Zenas said, — I don't holt with downin' a man 
because of that. Like President Jefferson said ... I don't care if a man 
believes in one God or in twenty so long as he doesn't put his hand in my 


Butler perked up at this and began to lay out his own words in his 

— But this man Parker is pickin' my pocket. He's mainly back of this 
riot jest happened and that's going ter cost the city a pile a money 'fore 
we're through. An' he's always takin' a cut at the merchants, callin' them 
thieves and rum sellers, says we git more rent out of a broken-down tene- 
ment on Ann Street than a house on Tremont. Sez we charge too much 
interest, cheat the Custom House with false invoices and all that. Got so 
I don't dare to collect my own rent . . . get rocked outa my own property. 
He's to blame. But we might as well kept shet. There ain't nothin' we kin 
do about it. Somebody '11 throw in that block of a hundred shares fer him 
and it'll be all over but the shoutin'. 

— I wouldn't be too unhappy about that, Mr. Mudge, said Curtis. — You 
give up too easily. Mr. Greenough is holding a proxy for the hundred votes 
in question right now, and he's definitely going to cast them in favor of 
the motion. 

Butler quickly revised the speech he had ready, but he had to say some- 
thing so he asked timidly. — Is there a letter this year from the gentleman 
in Europe regarding his sentiments on the voting? I recall last year he ex- 
pressed his approval of Mr. Parker's work and especially directed his vote. 

Charles bent his head to whisper to Greenough. He straightened up and 
said, — No, sir. There is no letter this year. 

— May I ask, sir, said Butler gamely, looking for help around the table, 
— if there is any evidence to the effect that Mr. Covell wished to change 
his vote? 

— No evidence. No evidence, Mr. Butler. We simply asked the agent for 
the proxy and he gave it to us gladly without restrictions of any kind. 

There was a kind of moving and shifting now around the table. A few 
whispers and nodding of heads. Butler looked at Zenas Mudge. Mudge 
was bearing down on him with his gimlet eyes. It was a long, searching 
look, full of something Butler could not quite define. I'm a goner, he 
thought. I've cooked my goose. 

— Then we'll take the vote on the motion, said Charles. He passed pieces 
of paper to the trustees and they wrote on them the number of shares that 
they controlled and their feeling on the motion. Greenough was appointed 
teller and Charles watched him confidently over his shoulder. Greenough 
began to look disturbed and did some hasty scribbling on his tally sheet. He 
began to whisper to Charles. Charles looked around at the table again. He 
was looking rather distraught. 

— Gentlemen, he said. — Did everyone understand the motion? We 

3 T 9 

were to vote Yes, to cancel the lease and No, to keep it. Did anyone think 
it was the other way around ? 

No one did. Or at least no one said so. Greenough passed a certain ballot 
toward Charles. Charles brought it discreetly to Zenas Mudge, asking him 
to confirm his ballot. Zenas shook his head testily. 

Charles went back to his chair and stood a moment staring again at the 
tally sheet. He looked a little pale. — I wish to announce, he said, — the re- 
sults of the voting. For the motion to cancel the lease of the Congregational 
Society, two hundred and sixty-one. Against the motion there are two hun- 
dred and ninety-one votes. The motion is therefore lost. 

There had been seven at the table supporting Parker and they looked for 
each other with happiness deep in their eyes. One of them made a motion. 
— I move, he said firmly, — that this body go on record as excluding, from 
now on, all political, personal and sectarian considerations. 

Zenas had his hand up first on this. Curtis had to poke his son-in-law to 
get his hand up and make it unanimous. 

— Move to adjourn, someone said, but Charles held up his hand. 

— Gentlemen, I want to take this moment to announce my resignation as 
chairman of this board and as a member thereof. To continue in the face 
of the sentiments just expressed in the voting would be inconsistent with 
my loyalty to my family and to my own personal principles. I shall write 
a letter to the newspapers setting forth my reasons in greater detail. 

Bill Butler, feeling high, spoke out . . . quick as a flash and more from 
instinct than discretion . . . some words he regretted slightly afterwards: 

— Move to accept. 

It was seconded and passed almost unanimously. Greenough abstained 
this time and Charles disqualified himself. 

The meeting broke up in a happy mood. As Butler went to leave the 
room he saw old Zenas bent over as if in pain, his face covered with his 
gnarled hand. — Are you all right, sir ? he asked. 

Zenas raised his face; his red-rimmed eyes were wet and his face cut 
into deep grooves of laughter. 

— Did you see Charlie's face when he read the count? he said. — He 
looked as if the building fell in on him. Serves him right, the consarned, 
skulkin', cheatin' lawyer. He knowed Penn Covell meant them votes fer 
Parker. But Charlie thought he could steal 'em and switch 'em, but he was 
fooled 'cause I threw my hundred in fer Parker jes' fer spite. 

— Why didn't you speak up for Mr. Parker before the vote ? We might 
have got a bigger majority. 

— Speak up fer him ? Zenas said angrily. — Got no use fer him. If I had 


him here I'd knock his block off right now. But I figure the government's 
goin' to take care of them fellas. He'll be in a bigger buildin' than this 'fore 
long. But the way Charlie did it stuck in my craw . . . made me put my 
back up. Fair's fair, young fella, and you can't stab no one in the back, not 
even a miserable critter like Parker. 

When Parker's hack got to the prison gate, there was a paddy wagon 
waiting for admittance through the main trap. He could see a row of pris- 
oners sitting on a long bench inside. There was only one guard with them 
and he wondered how the man, who was old and slight, could control this 
number on the long ride from Salem. He had been told where they came 
from by the hack driver as he paid him off. Hack drivers always seemed to 
know these things although there was nothing on the long black-painted 
cart to show its point of origin. 

Then he saw one of them raise his hand to scratch his nose and he saw 
that each was chained to the other. He looked away quickly, embarrassed 
for the man, feeling as if he had seen him in the secret parts of his body. 

This taste of observing human shame laid foul on his tongue and he 
began to regret his visit. What would be the use of parading through the 
institution if he had to avert his eyes from the men inside, whom he im- 
agined would be standing spread-eagled, like gloomy bears against the sad 
inner iron of the grilled doors of the cells? They would look at him with 
hatred, seeing him strolling casually before them in freedom . . . his pres- 
ence alone a pompous sermon and his conversation with the guide con- 
strued as specious moralizing. 

But he forced himself to go inside, telling himself that if he saw such a 
look and such a thought in the silently rebuking eyes of an inmate, he 
would go to him and say, You are more honest than I because you 
struck out against the state, knowing that it is a sham based on force in- 
stead of love. It is more honest inside of this place, my friend. . . . 

He went into the warden's office and introduced himself, telling the 
warden that he would like to go through. The warden rang a bell on his 
desk for a deputy, telling Parker that he was always glad of a visit from 
the clergy. — These customers in here need all of that they can get, said 
the warden. — I'd like to have one of you gentlemen walk through every 
day. Say a few words to them if you like. We have rules against talking to 
the prisoners but it won't do them any harm to get a little dose of goodness 
and piety for a change. Appreciate your visit, sir. Appreciate it a lot. 

Parker felt sick with the old command to moralize laid on him again. 


The falsity of his position was hard to bear. He looked at the warden. The 
man had a kind, unbrutal face. Perhaps, he thought, he is one of the new 
race of jailers that we have talked about so much in our meetings on prison 
reform. Perhaps he believes like us that these places are not to punish but 
to change their inhabitants, and, like us, does not see the deeper wrong 
that to change is to punish, for we judge men not of themselves but for 
their likeness to us. 

The deputy did not come at once and Parker's discomfort grew more 
acute. He must throw off" this taint of moralizing. Should he tell the man 
point-blank perhaps what he already knew, that his visitor stood in peril 
of a sentence to this place? No. That would be too coarse, too flaunting 
and embarrassing for the warden. 

— How many men have you got here, Warden? he said, breaking the 

— Four hundred and ninety-one, answered the warden. 

— All ages I suppose ? 

— Oh yes, the warden said. — But mostly young men. We have one hun- 
dred and eleven from twenty-five to thirty years. Then it drops to ninety- 
two between thirty and forty and only forty-one of them are from forty to 
fifty. And many of them have been here since they were fifteen or sixteen 
years old. We have five between sixty and seventy, so you see it's not too 
unhealthy here. But there are too many, sir. Too many. You gentlemen of 
the cloth have a great responsibility laid on you. You must spend more 
time among the poor. They're the ones crowding our jails. They're the ones 
who need the churches and the prayers. 

— I wouldn't say that, Warden, Parker said. He rose from his chair, glad 
of this chance of throwing of? the unwelcome mantle of hypocrisy. — I 
wonder at the fewness of crimes, not their multitude. If there were not a 
greater proportion of goodness and piety in the poor than in the rich, their 
crimes would be tenfold. They have the natural wants of man. They see 
food, clothing, comfort, luxury before them and shut away from them by 
a mere pane of glass in a shop window. They are indignant at being shut 
into the mews and kennels of the land. Should we teach them that it is the 
will of God that they toil forever, stinting and sparing only to starve more 
slowly to death? They see others doing nothing. Rich men's daughters 
flashing like a rainbow in the streets while their own have barely a rag to 
hide their shame . . . Baskets of rare wine, not brought to the sick but for 
the pleasures of the strong . . . What wonder is it that they feel a desire 
for revenge and break into houses and stores and set barns on fire? 

The warden stared at him in amazement. In a strained voice he said, 


— Are you sympathizing with the wicked, sir, not with the industrious 
and good? Do you think crimes come natural to man? 

— It is the natural effect of misery, sir, said Parker, smiling and purged. 

— It is the voice of our brother's blood crying to God against us all. Should 
we wonder if it cries in robbery and fire ? 

The warden turned his chair from the desk looking Parker fully in the 
eye. Parker felt his old sense of elation coming on him again. He felt a 
pleasant assurance that if he came here, he wouldn't be punished, that he 
wouldn't be changed. He knew the fear he had was that: the fear of being 
changed, of being afraid and remorseful under the threat of immersion in 
the gray walls. He spoke on almost happily. 

— The nation sets the poor an example of fraud by making them pay 
highest in all taxes, of theft by levying the national revenue on persons 
instead of property. Our Army and Navy set them the lesson of violence 
to complete their schooling as when a few years ago, we robbed the people 
of Mexico, stealing, burning and murdering for the lust of power and gold. 
Our industrialists deal with the poor as tools, not men. Is it any wonder 
that they feel wronged ? 

His speech was interrupted by the entrance of the deputy. The warden 
paused for a moment, wondering if it would be possible to deny this fire- 
brand the courtesy of a visit. If he had been a seedy country clergyman, he 
could have dismissed him by turning his back. But this man was bursting 
with an assurance amounting to insolence. 

— What did you say your name was, Reverend? said the warden again. 

— Theodore Parker, Warden. 

— Oh, that reverend, said the warden, as if it explained everything. 

— Take the gentleman through, Deputy, but make no exceptions to the 
rule on conversation with the prisoners. 

— Thank you, Warden, said Parker, seizing his hand and shaking it 
with a bright smile. — You are most kind. 

The warden turned back to his work with a half-suppressed shudder as 
Parker and the deputy went to stand before the huge doors of the guard- 
room, awaiting admission. 

Aside from a momentary flash of fear as a whole series of doors slammed 
shut and were bolted behind him, Parker felt no whit of the disquiet he 
had dreaded at standing in the midst of caged humans. The great wings of 
the prison spoked out from the lofty rotunda where the two men stood. 
The guard threw open a barred door, suggesting that they begin by visiting 
the west wing, which was empty now because the men had gone to the 
kitchen for their midday meal. 


The cell block was like a huge decked ship with inside cones of passages 
and cabins shrunk away from the hull. Stairways unfolded upward in V 
shapes leading to the five tiers in the outer walls. There were massive win- 
dows, higher and clearer than any in the cathedral, their wide panes mini- 
mizing the bars overlacing them. 

But the cells . . . Ah, here was no monk's cloistered retreat. They were 
primitive caves lined with seamed blocks of granite but looking like small 
square holes quarried out of the living rock. 

Parker stepped gingerly into one of them. He could stand in the middle 
and touch the roof and both sides. The door was not a great gridiron 
for the languishing prisoner to stretch on. It was a narrow grate set stingily 
in a two-foot notch, head-high for a small man. 

He could see without asking that the only light within came from the 
daylight in the windows on the outer walls. No need to ask if candles were 
allowed. No need to ask if there could be a table and a shelf for some 
books. There was barely enough room for a man to lay his body down on 
the bare boards just above the floor. In the far corner was a rusty can stink- 
ing of night soil and urine. 

— Couldn't swing a cat in there, said the guard. — We'd better git along 
now. The men will be coming back. 

— Do they have to stay all day in their cells ? Parker said. 

— They eat in there, said the guard. — They get their grub at the 
kitchen and then come back here to eat. 

— No common meals, Parker said, — no breaking of bread together? 

— Oh no, sir. We don't keep them in here all day. Now if you come 
with me, I'll show you the shops where they work. They make rope and 
do carpentering and do plumbing even. Oh, some of them are very 
clever, very clever at wasting time away, sir. You've got to hand it to 
them, bad as they are. 

They walked across the bare gravel of the prison yard to a row of brick 
buildings. Inside some men were working steadily, not much differently 
from men Parker had seen in factories around Boston. Certainly they 
did not have to work as hard and were without the frenzy of responsi- 
bility for feeding themselves and their families and keeping a roof over 
their heads. Even their hours were shorter. They did not go to labor in 
the false dawn of artificial light and continue into the fraudulent gleam 
of the evening lamps. Here was no sixteen-hour day. The cells were 
damp, fox-holes really, but they were supervised and clean for health's 
sake and their meals were wholesome. 

What then . . . what then was so bad, so awful here? He had beea 

3 2 4 

into the stews of Ann Street in the midst of a cholera epidemic just past. 
He saw filthy yards flooded with tidewater to the depth of two feet 
and men sailing around their cellars in tubs after their winter wood. 
And two-story houses with forty occupants, sleeping eleven in a room and 
eight in a bed, father, grandfather, mother, daughter, son, baby and 
boarders under a single blanket. He saw food, begged by miserable dirty 
children, brought in discarded fruit baskets and thrown and devoured on 
a pair of planks laid on barrels. He saw these planks laid on stools for 
a doctor to get to his patient over the water on the floor, and the body 
of a dead infant floating around in its coffin. He had stepped gingerly 
through the scum left by a cluster of eight broken-down privies at the 
base of Fort Hill and had crept into the miserable cellars three tiers 
deep. He had stood in the first, used as a bar and family common room, 
the second, with six beds in it, all occupied, and the third, a six-foot cell 
with its only air admitted through a narrow door and rented out, with 
meals, for thirty-six cents a week. 

He looked at a man pedaling the treadle of a lathe. Was that he? No. 
That man's face was not unhappy, but it had an undeveloped, clownish, 
ignorant look like that he had seen on the faces of young people in a 
Shaker settlement he had once been to. He walked further in the shops, 
searching now, boldly and openly, for his brother in confinement. They 
all looked the same. They were all passive-looking. Most of them, although 
pale, were fairly plump about the face. Most of them, he noted sadly, had 
good heads of hair. 

— Why don't they talk? Don't they want to? 

— Strictest rule we have, sir. If they talk, we take all their privileges 
away and lock 'em up in solitary. There's nothing to talk about. Every- 
body does the same thing. What have they got to say . . . that's honest, 
I mean ... to the other feller? 

— Oh, they must read, have visitors, homes somewhere and fam- 
ilies. All humans communicate. That's what lifts us from the animal 

— They're only allowed visitors once a month. And as to reading . . . 
The deputy laughed. — We have them working in all the daylight hours, 
sir, or eating. We don't let them have no light in their cell, sir. Might 
make a fire. Accidental ... or deliberate. We've got men put in here 
for lightin* fires. The deputy laughed again. — We take away their 
matches to make them good little boys. 

Parker pushed upon an unbarred door and stood in the yard, blinking in 
the light. 

3 2 5 

— Why can't they talk? he said suddenly. — There must be more than 
that. That's a terrible thing. 

— Well, sir, said the deputy, on the defensive, — we used to let them, 
years ago. But then it was forbidden . . . because ... I remember the 
order now . . . because unfaithful persons have held improper com- 
munion with them. 

Of course, Parker thought, certain men have told them to escape. Cer- 
tain men have told them if they were innocent in their hearts and in 
the sight of God, they had a right to seek their freedom. They had a 
right to burst free and make communion with their fellow men even if 
it meant the sacrifice of a human life, the life or lives that sought to keep 
them under restraint. 

Parker looked sharply up at the deputy. He was also a kind, gentle- 
voiced man with soft brown eyes. Parker felt the thrust of his own 
truth within him, saying: That is your position, that is your higher law 
. . . you may attack to the death any who imprison or enslave you against 
your will. 

— Take me to the dungeons, he said. — You must have dungeons here. 

— Oh, no, said the deputy. — We have no dungeons. That's what peo- 
ple think, but they're wrong. Everything is above ground. You've seen 
it all. 

— Where do you put the men who talk, who are unfaithful and try 
to establish improper communion? 

The deputy hesitated. — I don't know if the Warden would want me 
to ... he said. — It's kind of restricted up there. 

— You say there are no dungeons, Parker persisted. — You say you 
have nothing to hide. Let me see these disciplinary cells. You're telling 
the truth, aren't you, when you say they are like all the others? 

The deputy looked at him a moment and then began to walk across 
the yard. They entered a cell wing and began to climb the V stairs to 
the high fifth tier. They walked down the overspreading platform, their 
footfalls echoing in the stillness. 

Finally the deputy stopped at the last cell in the farthest corner. It 
was remote and insulated from all other human life, a hole in a high 
cliff far above all human habitation. A hole for a bird of prey . . . Parker 
could think of a foul nest within and a few dirty bones strewn on the 
floor. Here lived the man in his own image. The man who communi- 
cated with his fellows and made them unfaithful. The deputy motioned 
for him to come closer and stand before the cell. Parker could see, in 
the dim slanted light that got past the thickness of the door slit, a man 


lying asleep on some boards and old blankets. A dirty tin plate was on 
the floor beside him and the slop pail was redolent in the air. 

The man woke suddenly and looked at him, shielding his eyes. He 
stretched and got up. For some inexplicable reason, Parker took off his hat. 

— Hello skinhead, said the man, coarsely rubbing his hand over his 
own baldness. He blinked once or twice, laid his hands briefly on the 
bars and then sunk back on his bed, rolling over and shutting out them 
and the light. 

There he was. Parker knew now there was the fear he would have to 
fear. Not the chains and restraint or even the toil and deprivation of 
genteel company and intellectual pursuits. Nothing the state put on him 
had he to fear. Nothing but the clawing thrust of the tiger within him. 
For when and if it stopped being selfless and ethically controlled, it would 
strike out with a beastlike passion against all restraint, even that imposed 
by the noble custodians of an ideal world. He would be a lion on the 
streets of heaven, a tiger in Utopia, a taloned eagle in Elysium if he 
could not communicate and lose himself in doing for and communing 
with others. 

He turned to the deputy and said, — And now I think I shall end my 
visit with a trip to the gallows. 

Lydia opened the door when Parker got back to the house and drew 
him into the parlor and closed the door. 

— There's a man up there. He insisted on seeing you. I had to let him in. 

— That's all right, Bearsie, he said kissing her. 

— I don't think you should see him, Theodore. He's some kind of an 
evangelist and he'll pray over you and upset you. Why don't you step 
over to Wendell's ... I saw him fixing some tea in the kitchen . . . and 
let me get rid of the man upstairs? 

— I'll see him. I think I need something stronger than Wendell's tea 
at the moment. 

He gave her a little hug and started slowly up the long stairs. He could 
picture who would be waiting for him. Some roughly dressed self-taught 
rural exhorter in cowhide boots who would call down fiery and ungram- 
matical curses upon him. Sometimes he met with these men pleasurably 
because they stimulated his thoughts and made him see the defects and 
cruelty of the old religion, but today he dreaded it a little. His back was 
already flayed. 

He was surprised to see a tall, handsome, impeccably dressed young 


gentleman in soft-napped broadcloth excellently cut and the crispest and 
whitest of linen. He murmured a greeting as the man introduced him- 
self, shook hands quickly and felt the man's fear betrayed by a sweaty 
palm. He knew that his visitor was not a casual byway parson but a 
promising young squire, sent to win knighthood at the round table of 
the highest and best orthodoxy by confronting the dragon of the place. 

— Will you kneel, please? said the young man. — I have come to help 

— I'd rather sit here at the desk if you don't mind, Parker said. 

The man looked quite shocked at this statement and clasped his hands 
in front of his chest with so much agitation that Parker thought he was 
going to seize him and throw him to the floor like Jacob wrestling with 
the angel. 

But then he knelt and began praying. He started in a conventional 
vein, following the traditional paths laid out for the rebuking of the 
penitent. His diction was excellent, his voice full and loud. Parker was 
glad he had left the door to the study open. It might provide some amuse- 
ment for the women downstairs. 

— O God, prayed the man, — though our iniquities testify against us, 
forgive us, for our backslidings are many, we have sinned against Thee. 
Behold I am vile. What shall I answer Thee? I will lay my hand upon 
my mouth. 

Parker sat with one elbow on the desk and his head lightly resting on 
his hand. His eyes were open. He was peeking. He looked longingly at 
the thick black hair that rose in a bold vigorous wave of his savior's scalp 
and then began to search hopefully for signs of baldness at the crown 
and temples of this hirsute giant. 

The supplicant felt his gaze and looked angrily up at him. Parker 
looked quickly up at the ceiling with a guilty start. 

— O God, said the man in instant rebuke, — O my God, we know 
there are seven things Thou hatest: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and 
hands that shed innocent blood. A heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, 
feet that be swift in running to mischief; a false witness that uttereth lies, 
and he that soweth discord among brethren. Regard this man, O God; 
this man is no common sinner. He is dragging hundreds, thousands, 
verily hundreds of thousands down into the pit with him, that strait, 
dark and foul-smelling prison, the abode of demons and lost souls, where 
he will cause them to lie in a never-ending storm of darkness, dark flames 
and the dark smoke of brimstone amid which the bodies are heaped 
upon one another without even a glimpse of your blessed air . . . 


Parker, glancing sidelong again in boredom and irritation, saw a 
crumpled bit of cloth lying on the floor. It was a little wisp dropped by 
the child Abigail on her visit. It was pale blue, and it rested tender and 
defenseless on the floor; and Parker thought of the child herself lying 
there and listening to this monstrous idea of a God of hatred and destruc- 
tion, and then lying awake in her tousled bed at night facing the self- 
invoked specter in her room with wide eyes full of terror . . . cowering 
before the awful hand of a bearded giant, capricious, changeable and for- 
ever wrathful, paving his wide hell with the skulls of unbaptized infants, 
the bones of babies not a span long, while her mother and father were 
racked above that fiery floor. He thought of her brother Lloyd with his 
wide, questioning and then believing eyes, listening in fascination and 
then fearing and crouching down and skulking about the streets like a 
rat afraid of daylight, learning to fear his instincts, emasculating his in- 
tellect and affections, bitterly ashamed of the change and growth of his 
young body and his speculative faculty of spirit, of every blossom from 
a natural bud of life. 

His fingers started to go tracking for a pencil and paper and he cov- 
ertly began to make some rough notes in his weird handwriting. 

The young squire kneeling on the floor began to feel the spirit, and 
his voice got louder and higher-pitched. He had cast off for good the 
plural supplication of the opening and came into the broad highway o£ 
soul-satisfying and stimulating denunciation. 

— This miserable sinner, O God, is teaching the ignorant, innocent 
and beguiled that there is no fallen angel, no Lucifer, no devil with his 
immense power and evil from whose wicked snare only you, O God, can 
rescue us. 

— This worm of the earth, O God, denies our human depravity that 
came from our wicked mother Eve and passed to Adam, cowering for- 
ever in his nakedness and lost innocence. 

— He even denies your sacred wrath, O God the Father, and fears it 
not and says you bear no anger against the sinful, the slothful and wicked. 

— He turns his back even on the gates of hell as if they did not exist 
and is insensible to the stench and agony of unregenerate souls. 

— O God, he denies that you are one with the Son and the Holy Ghost. 
That you are eternally the Father, eternally the Son and eternally the 
Holy Ghost who washes away our sins. He denies your miracles, the 
Virgin Birth of the blessed Christ Child, that the death on the Cross 
taketh away the sins of the world. The resurrection of your Son, who died 
for all of us, this man denieth. 


— Thus O God, he lies swinishly in the deepest of all mortal sins on 
this earth, he prevents men and women, O God, from gaining eternal 
salvation by these beliefs. He speaks against them, seeking to destroy 
them, and thus condemms his followers to perish everlastingly. 

The intercessor looked up to see how the sinner was taking it and 
was amazed to see him writing with pencil and paper. 

— O Lord, send confusion and distraction into his study this afternoon 
and prevent him from finishing his wicked labors. O Lord, when he 
attempts to desecrate Thy holy day by speaking to the people, meet 
him there, Lord, and confound him, so that he will not be able to 

Parker was trying his best to ease through the scene, knowing that 
he owed tolerance to this fervor as others did to his, and hoping that the 
maledictions were coming from a selfish heart. The man's face seemed 
to bear this out. His eyes were shut and his deliberate shaping of the 
words slowed their urgency and sapped them of their wrath. 

Parker dropped his eyes to the praying hands. There was no unction 
there. The long, red bony fingers were not set in the woof of contempla- 
tion. They were twisting and tugging at each other with reptilian sav- 
agery. The pale, darting, black-rimmed fingernails looked up at him 
like evil flashing eyes with a sense of recognition and then three bent 
fingers of the right hand seized the long middle one of the left and pulled 
out the knuckle joint with a snap. The cruel noise in the baited half- 
silence of the room came like a shot and Parker could not sit any more. 
He took a step or two toward the door but thought better of it. He must 
stand fast. He felt compelled to pray . . . Oh, Father and Mother of us 
all, many people doubt that I love you because I say you are the Infinite 
Perfection and need no dogmas or miracles to prove your truths. I have 
never defended myself before man, but I ask your help and understand- 
ing for the troubles that are to smite me in the next few weeks. 

But it was hard to shut out that resonant young voice, now giving 
full rein to its rancor. 

— Lord, we know we cannot argue this man down. The more we say 
against him, the more people flock to him and the more they love him 
and revere him. O Lord, meet this infidel on his way like Saul of Tarsus. 
He is persecuting the Church of God. Cause a light to shine around him 
which shall bring him trembling to the earth and make him a defender 
to the faith which he has labored so long to destroy. 

The young man looked up at this. He saw Parker's lips moving in a 
whisper and could catch a word or two as he listened briefly. 


— Men hate me because I cannot take man-made rules for your au- 
thority; because I test all things by human faculties, intellectual things 
by the intellect, moral things by the conscience, affectional things by the 
affections and religious things by the soul. I know, God, that you have 
given us nothing better than our natures and that we cannot serve the 
purpose of our lives but by their normal use. . . . 

Downstairs in the hallway, Lydia and Miss Stevenson had been listen- 
ing in horror to the stranger's words. Now this silence distressed them 
even more. They wondered if Parker had become ill and fainted under 
the onslaught. Lydia wanted to go up to him but then a knock came at 
the door and she stood in indecision. 

— I know, whispered Parker, — that you never made a miracle or a 
particle of absolute evil, and that all are blasphemers who say you are 
unforgiving and lack fidelity to yourself, and are finite. 

Lydia started to walk slowly up the stairs, filled with fear. 

Parker paused and looked down at his adversary. The squirming 
fingers were quiet now, relieved by their act of self-cruelty. With a kind 
of shame they drew apart and the hands dropped to the man's side. He 
knelt with deep bowed head, like an exhausted anchorite, his hands hid- 
den and unbeseeching. Parker felt an upwelling of sympathy and stepped 
near to him. 

— All mankind has made a mistake, said Parker temperately. — We 
took a false step in the beginning. The mistake of the Christian Church 
is its conception of God. Once it was the best we could either form or 
accept. Today, it is not worth while to try to receive it. It is inadequate 
for science. It is unfit for religion . . . 

Lydia now stood listening on the second-floor landing. She winced as 
she heard the stranger cry out: 

— O Lord, put a hook in this man's jaw as you did the great serpent 
Leviathan, and stop forever his vituperative tongue! 

Parker's hand, which had been descending for a friendly squeeze of 
the man's bowed shoulder, stopped short. — Wake up. Wake up, he said. 
— Stop taking the dream of a half-savage Jew for God's affidavit of his 
own character. I cannot love an imperfect God. I cannot serve an imperfect 
God with perfect morality. 

The man laid two clenched fists to his breast and cried again. — O 
Lord, if this man is a subject of grace, convert him and bring him into 
the Kingdom of Thy son. But if he is beyond the reach of the saving 
influence of the Gospel, remove him out of the way and let his influence 
die with him. 


Lydia heard Parker's voice raised to its fullest pitch. — Are you praying 
for my death, sir? Do you know what you are saying? 

— I'm going for Wendell, Lydia said starting down the stairs. — I 
can't stand this any more. 

— Go the back way, Miss Stevenson said. — There's somebody waiting 
here at the front. 

Lydia ran quickly to the strip of window and looked out. — Oh, it's 
the children. Let them in. Let them in. 

Parker looked down at the man, longing to smite him with his hand 
across the mouth. — Amen, said the man. And then he added a postscript 
in a wild, garbled voice, scrambling to his feet. — I am not afraid of 
you. Hell never vomited forth a more wicked and blasphemous monster 
than you, and it is only the mercies of Jesus Christ which have kept you 
from damnation already! 

— O dear God, Parker mumbled, — I cannot say Amen. I hate this man. 
Then in his anguish he heard the front door unlatched and a torrent 

rush up the stairs. It was the children, happily crying, — Parkie, Parkie, 
Parkie! They rushed into the room, over a dozen of them engulfing him. 
He went with a rush to the secretary, scooping out the toys and strewing 
them over the floor. One lunged and crunched a delicately carved Swiss 
bear under his feet but got no rebuke. And the reverend stranger was 
shocked to see Parker get quickly to his knees, offering to these, neither 
kith nor kin, what he had denied to his God. 

His going was unnoticed and he was almost forgotten. Little Abby, 
who had a great fondness for Parkie, stood with her arm around his neck 
and prattled on while he marveled at the infinite perfection of her soft 
curling hair, round blue eyes, delicate nose and white teeth. It is only the 
children, he thought, that one can look in the face without showing 
sadness for the attacks of time. 

Young Lloyd came over with boyish brusqueness and tried to shove 
her away. — I want to tell Parkie something, he said. But she went on 
talking, trying to shut him out, and he took her around the neck and 
threw her to the floor. 

— Well, she always talks when I want to tell something, he said to 
Parker, who was looking reprovingly at him as he picked up the little 
girl. And then through her wails and tears, Parker heard the boy say, 
— My father told me to tell you that they aren't going to put you out 
of the Music Hall! 

Parker rocked back on his heels, hugging the sobbing child to his 
bosom, and a feeling of something arrested hung in the air. 


Then the tall form of Phillips filled the door as he stepped delicately 
over the small fry to where Abby was sobbing on Parker's shoulder. He 
stood looking down at his dear friend, noting the tired lines in his fore- 
head, the strained eyes and the trembling hand, and said, — This isn't 
the first time priestly malice has scanned every inch of your garment, dear 
friend. But still it is seamless and they find no stain. 

And then Parker said, — Amen. 





The earth is given into the hand of the wic\ed; 

He covereth the faces of the judges thereof; 

If it be not he, who then is it? 

Now my days are swifter than a post: 

They flee away, they see no good. 

They are passed away as the swift ships: 

As the eagle that swoopeth on the prey. 

If I say, — / will forget my complaint, 

I will put off my sad countenance, and be of good cheer: 

I am afraid of all my sorrows, 

I \now that thou wilt not hold me innocent. 

I shall be condemned; 

Why then do I labour in vain? 

If I wash myself with snow water, 

And ma\e my hands never so clean; 

Yet wilt thou plunge me in the ditch, 

And mine own clothes shall abhor me. 

Exeter place, where Parker lived in Boston, was a short, blind street, 
backed at the end by a brick building against which grew a great vine, 
held in place by a massive trellis, three stories high. The theatricalism of 
this device was aided and abetted by a dry drab fountain set in a tri- 
angular patch of tired grass which wedged out from the wall, and a 
wizened, unshapely statue of Flora stood to catch, everywhere but in 
her dwarfish hands, the droppings of the birds. 

His house was like one of those unfortunate doorways, often well kept, 
sometimes elegant, that the swirling winds use to pocket all the fugitive 
papers and leaves that they sweep up as they change quarter around the 
clock. Every spin of the weathercocks of religion, politics and economics 
pointed someone to his door. Whores, and deadbeats, young scholars 


looking for money to continue their education, German and Polish 
revolutionists, generally atheists who rebuked him for his religion, and 
old ladies who tried to save him from his paganism, climbed the two 
flights of stairs to his study and sat in the big wicker chair beside the desk. 

On the morning of July third, it was occupied by the Honorable Henry 
Wilson, a state senator, and an extremely gifted politician. He had the 
knack of judging events in terms of votes. He was Parker's age but there 
was no gray in his hair. He had a good firm handclasp and could listen 
with an absorption as sustained and effective as any flight of eloquence 
could be. His eyes were big and very blue and the well-spaced tangential 
wrinkles at their corners seemed to be transmitting all the sympathies 
and resources of his brain into the gaze he bent on a constituent. 

He had called, he said, to report that the District Court grand jury had 
not found for murder against the Courthouse attackers, and that they 
were to be held for riot only. 

— Were there any other names added to the list ? asked Parker. 

— Yes, said Henry. — Higginson, that young minister from Worcester. 

— Thank you very much, Wilson. I understand that there was an at- 
tempt to include me in the charge. 

— That's what I heard. Hallett's doing, of course. 

— I'm surprised that they didn't succeed. I believe that I am the most 
hated man in political circles in the state and perhaps in the nation. And 
since the whole thing is political . . . 

— Pardon me, Mr. Parker, but I must disagree with you there! The trial 
is political. But that you are so unpopular, I will never admit. I'm in the 
habit of studying these things very closely. It's my business, you might 
say and I am forced to admit you seem to wield more power than any 
other man I know of in Boston today. 

Parker gave him an indignant look, as if to say, What are you look- 
ing for that you should resort to such crass flattery? ... — Power, he 
said with a grunt of disbelief. — Why, I am a virtual outcast here in 
Boston and everywhere else! I wrote a letter to Mr. Seward just before 
Burns was taken, asking him to sponsor a convention against the Nebraska 
Bill in Albany, on the fourth. I also wrote to Chase of Ohio about it. 
Neither has answered me. 

— Well, said Henry bringing the tangents of his deepest wrinkles to 
play on Parker's irritated face. — Certain things have happened that 
might have made these gentlemen choose discretion over valor. 

— Then where is my power? demanded Parker. — I don't blame them. 
They have a lot to lose by joining with a man who is still not free of be- 


ing an indicted felon. The case is over perhaps in the lower Court, but 
Curtis will have it transferred to the Circuit Court as he did in the Shad- 
rach case. But brushing that aside, why didn't they hold the convention 
anyway? I've got up many conventions whose managers have asked me 
not to show my face thereat. I often withhold my name from petitions 
that I myself set in motion. I've had to work all of my political schemes 
by stealth, even before the Burns affair. 

Wilson smiled happily. Things were going exactly as he had hoped. 
He put a hand into his breast pocket, to touch in reassurance a newspaper 
that was folded there, containing a report of Parker's sermon of the day 
before. — You are speaking of tactics, Mr. Parker. The point is, did 
your schemes succeed ? I think they did. 

— I may have cheated the gallows. Name my other triumphs if you can. 
Henry held up his index finger. — First of all, the national chairman 

of the Democratic Party used every ounce of power and prestige he had 
to get you indicted by the District Court. Instead, the case will fizzle out 
and Sanger, the man who was to prosecute your case, is to be made a 
judge. Secondly, the richest and politically the most powerful family in 
Boston, the Curtises, tried to evict you from your church. They failed. 
The petitions you began for the removal of Judge Loring from the Pro- 
bate Court have already got thousands of signatures on them. Judge Lor- 
ing has been removed from his position at Harvard. Every attack against 
you has been defeated and the attackers routed. 

— You wouldn't think so to read the newspapers. Every day they seem 
to bait and mire me more and more. 

— That's it. No one has said that they're for you. At the Music Hall 
meeting, no one spoke in your favor; but you won. When the Harvard 
Overseers voted Loring down, not one word of debate was uttered. And 
when Richard Dana went to Josiah Quincy and Frank Dexter, to get 
them to oppose the removal of Loring . . . 

Parker had been listening in a relaxed position but when he heard 
this he gave a slight start. He tried to conceal it by clasping both hands 
behind his head but it had not escaped Wilson's observant eye. 

— Didn't you know that Richard Dana had turned against you? 

— I wouldn't call it that, Parker said deprecatingly. — I had an idea 
two years ago that he wouldn't run long with our team. 

— When he went to them, thinking of course that Quincy as New Eng- 
land's elder statesman and Dexter as the boss of the Whig Party would 
take sides with him, they told him that it served Loring right and it was 
about time that someone cut down the Curtis clique. 


Parker studied Wilson a moment. The politician had sat upright in his 
chair at first, with his small hands held circumspectly in his lap. But as he 
talked he had unbuttoned his coat, then rumpled his hair and finally loosed 
his stock. Now Parker could see he was itching to put his foot up on 
Parker's desk and Parker didn't mind if he did. 

— You know, Wilson, he said, — I've got a lot of confidence and respect 
for you. You're not a lawyer for one thing and you came from humble par- 
ents like myself. While I was hoeing corn, you were cobbling shoes. But 
you're here after something and I'd like to know what it is. 

Henry got up and stood behind Parker's chair. He put his hand on 
Parker's shoulder and said, — We want you to go into politics. 

— Are you serious? asked Parker. — How do you think you could ever 
get me on a ballot at a public convention ? It would be political suicide to 
propose and second me at a public convention! 

— What about a secret one as we have planned, so that no one would 
ever know you were running until Election Day, and then it would be too 
late? We've done that and swept the entire ticket in Philadelphia and 
through Ohio. You must understand that this is to be an Anti-Slavery 
Party. Isn't it about time we had one? 

Parker pushed back his chair and stood up. Henry's hand had fallen to 
his side. — I understand it's the Know-Nothing Party. 

— Why no, give it its right name, said Henry nervously. — It's a real 
party. It has a real name, the best of all: the American Party. 

— Then why don't you run it like a real party instead of skulking 
around in secret like a lot of schoolboys, cutting pieces out of billboards 
and chalking silly signals on walls? 

— Why ? said Henry, nettled. — You ought to know why. The way you 
fellows have gone about your anti-slavery tactics has made it impossible for 
a respectable man to take a stand on the question. This violence and these 
wild demonstrations have given all of you the reputation of being lawless, 
infidel radicals who want to tear the Union apart stone by stone. How can 
men of property and standing join with you in public without losing 
everything they have? 

— I didn't know they wanted to, said Parker mildly. 

Henry sat down again, caught off* guard by Parker's quiet reply. He 
daubed his forehead with a handkerchief and talked on in an injured, al- 
most whimpering tone. — Well, they do. You people have got so used to 
expecting opposition you can't see it subsiding. They're coming around to 
your side, Parker. They have nowhere else to go. 

— This is all news to me, Wilson. Then why doesn't Seward . . . 


— Don't worry about Seward. He told me not long ago that you had 
the shrewdest political brain in the country. Let's worry about the Demo- 
cratic Party. Are we going to let it be the only political party in this coun- 
try, perpetuating forever its Party Supreme Court, its Slave Congress and 
Senate, and with its Southside ambassadors and consuls representing the 
land of the free all over the world ? 

— You don't have to tell me about the wickedness of this country. It is 
my own greatest misfortune that I have to oppose it and be taken for a 
politician instead of a preacher. I want to escape from this wretched con- 
flict and write a book and be a minister and a scholar as I was cut out 
to be. 

— Is that why you're always saying how everybody reviles you and 
hates you ? I think you say that so you won't be asked ... so that you can 
climb back into your cell and contemplate. 

Parker was stung by the truth in this and he showed it. — That may be 
true, Wilson, but the fact remains that you yourself have only broached it 
because you're working underhandedly. That's no compliment to me. 

— It won't be underhandedly for long. After people get used to anti- 
slavery, after they see all the people that are for it and the character of the 
men the new party has attracted, the need for secrecy will wither away . . . 
and we shall emerge as a great noble, humanitarian group. 

The passionate ring in Wilson's voice made Parker feel a little ashamed 
of himself. He began to walk up and down the room in deep thought. He 
began to consider the question seriously. 

— I've thought of public office, Wilson, he said, — although I've never 
mentioned it before to a single soul. I'd like to be a Senator. I'd like to 
come up against some of those drunken bullies from the South: Toombs 
... or Mason. Oh, how I could blast them! 

Henry withdrew his eagerness. He had the Senate post in mind for him- 
self. — I thought of Governor, he said. — The first anti-slavery Governor. 
Gardner wants it, but he can be by-passed. 

— Gardner can buy it. He's a very rich man. 

— Not in this party he can't. Besides, he hasn't got the friends and ad- 
mirers you have. You preach to three thousand people a week. Think of 
the votes that would bring you. 

Parker didn't answer this. He had experienced a brief, warm wave of 
pleasure. It flooded through his whole body and made him tingle to his 
fingertips. But it went quickly and left a lump in his stomach, a kind of 
heavy, guilty feeling that he couldn't define. 

— We've got to have you, said Henry. — You're the only one that can 


do the job. You're the only one that can stop the Paddies. We'll never get 
this administration defeated while every boat from Cork brings in new 
voters by the thousands. 

Parker jerked his head around to look at Henry. — Oh, is that why you 
want me ? To fight the Catholics ? To be chief bigot ? 

— I don't know of anyone who has said more against them than you 
have. If you said it in a spirit of bigotry, you have only yourself to blame. 
I don't consider myself one. I'm anti-slavery. I have never denied it. I have 
suffered because of it. But I am willing to join any organization that can 
effectively fight against it. Now I'm a bigot, I suppose, in your eyes. 
Good-by, sir. I'm sorry I came. I don't drink, I don't smoke, I try to help 
my fellow man. I thought you were friendly toward me. I thought we 
shared the same ideas. I was wrong. I'm a bigot. 

Parker ran over and shut the door against Henry's going and stood 
against it, confronting him. 

— Don't leave, Henry, said Parker. — Calm down. I didn't say you were 
a bigot, but your party is against foreigners and I am not. My ancestors 
were all here before 1650 but that doesn't make them any beter than some- 
one who came here in 1840 or 1850. Democracy must rest on humanity, not 
nationality or a mode of religion. I prefer a higher-law Catholic to a lower- 
law Protestant, a noble man born in Kerry to a mean man born on 
Plymouth Rock. 

— Then all you said on the matter means nothing, said Henry. — And 
all the sentiments in the new party against slavery are useless, and false if 
they did not come from the Pope on Cornhill Street. 

Parker pushed him back ... he didn't resist much . . . into the chair 
beside the desk. 

— Please stay a bit, for my sake, Parker said. — These things that I have 
said, have they given people the impression that I am against the Catholics ? 
I have said as much against ministers of my own faith whose superstition is 
their stock in trade. 

Henry began to button his collar and straighten his coat. — You're too 
much for me, Mr. Parker. I don't know how to take you. I've heard people 
say that you make statements and then you never back them up and some- 
times deny them. I have never believed it. Now I don't know. 

— That's a very serious charge, said Parker. — I'd like to go into that 
for a bit. 

He sat down at his desk and paused. Henry reached into his pocket and 
brought out the newspaper. 

— Now let's not be angry at each other, Parker said. — I called you a 


bigot and you called me a liar. After that I think we can be friends again. 
Read on, Macduff . . . 

Henry unfolded the newspaper, cleared his throat and began. — I am 
about to quote from a sermon entitled "The Rights of Man in America." 
I'll skip over the first part and just read this section here which says that 
of the four great dangers threatening these rights, the Roman Catholic 
Church is one of the worst. 

— Please note that I said the Church, not the Catholics themselves, said 
Parker. Henry raised his head in annoyance. Parker subsided into silence. 
Henry went on reading: 

It claims infallibility for itself and therefore denies spiritual free- 
dom, liberty of mind and conscience for its members. This makes 
it the foe of all progress, deadly hostile to democracy. It aims at 
absolute domination over the body and spirit of man and therefore 
is the natural ally of tyrants. 

— That's right, that's right, said Parker. — I won't recant that. 

— Then, said Henry, — you go on to say that the leading men of the 
country do not see this danger. And that a group so absolutely governed by 
a caste of celibate priests, emasculated of the natural humanities of our race, 
welded into a body and ruled by archbishops, cardinals and a Pope, would 
logically oppose the natural rights of man. It would have to hate free 
schools, free press, and free churches, the rule of majorities, the voice of 
the people. 

— True, said Parker judiciously. — Every word is true. 

The church of the dark ages shows itself more here every day 
[quoted Henry with gusto]. The Catholic clergy are on the march 
on the side of slavery. They find it is the dominant power and pay 
court thereto that they may rise by its help. They think it is an ulcer 
which will eat up the Republic and so stimulate and foster it for the 
ruin of Democracy, the deadliest foe of the Roman Hierarchy. 

Henry let the paper slide to the floor and stood up to go. 

— Wait, wait, said Parker, reaching for it. — You haven't read the rest 
of it. That's not the whole sermon. 

— That's enough for me, Henry said. — Or it was until I found out 
that I was a bigot and you weren't. You can't blame me for being a little 
confused. Where do you draw the line? 

— You drew the line, Henry. You didn't finish it. I went on to say this: 


But I am glad the Catholics came here. We cannot blame them 
for the use the demagogues have made of their ignorance and pov- 
erty. We cannot blame them if their Romanism leads them to sup- 
port slavery, filibustering and drunkenness. But good comes out of 
evil and our democracy is worth little if we cannot emancipate them 

Henry opened the door. — Well, good-by, he said. 

— Do you still believe that I don't back up my statements? 

— Yes, I'm afraid I do. 

Parker came over to him again and followed him down the stairs, saying 
this: — Well, I'll give you this much in writing if you wish. Your new 
party will do great things. It will rebuke the insolence of the Archbishop 
and Cardinals of the Catholic Church, who require a severe chastisement. 
It will show the politicians that they cannot use the foreign population as 
they do so shamelessly in Boston. It will throw confusion and dissolution 
into the old parties and make way for a new one. This one to be an open 
one where the members will not be afraid to stand up and be counted. Can 
you imagine the moral force of a party that could offer Wendell Phillips as 
Senator? Or Garrison as President? And all done in the spirit of de- 

— They'd never get elected, said Henry. — That's ridiculous. 

Parker could not forbear giving Henry a parting thrust. — I don't see 
how you can say that. You say you have the same principles as they have 
and you are always seeking for office with might and main. 

Henry looked back at him a moment and smiled sadly. — I feel as if I 
had been run through a threshing machine but I still, for the life of me, 
can't see why the man who wrote that sermon is opposed to the Know- 

— I don't blame you for finding it hard to understand. It's something in 
here. I have a tenderness about tolerance. . . . When I was teaching school 
out Lexington way, I had a little Negro girl in my class. She was a very 
cunning child and quite bright. But some of the mothers objected to her 
and, rather than break up the school and undo the work I thought I had 
accomplished, I put her out. 

— I'm afraid I don't get the connection, said Henry. 

— It's in here, said Parker touching his chest again. — It left a tender 
spot that has hurt me ever since. I felt it again upstairs a while ago. 

Henry shrugged his shoulders and walked off down the street. Parker 
climbed wearily up the stairs to his study and sat for a long while at the 


south window. He listened intently to his own breathing. Then he put on 
his hat and went over to Otis Place to see Dr. Bowditch. 

Parker walked too fast over to Dr. Bowditch's and when he arrived his 
heart was pounding wildly and he knew he could not indulge the common 
human impulse to cheat the opinion of the doctor by putting his best pulse 
forward. He pulled the bell wire but there was no answer. The door was 
hospitably open so he walked into the parlor. He stood for a moment 
in the middle of the carpet, savoring the beauty and distinction of the 

The shades were drawn over the long windows reaching to the floor but 
the afternoon brightness behind them made columns of light, green and 
diffused. The two Gilbert Stuarts lived quietly and without pomp on the 
pale walls. They were portraits of the doctor's parents. There were two 
handsome globes, three feet in diameter, museum pieces, masterworks of 
the cartographer's art. One was of the earth and the other celestial and they 
were not adornments but tools, for the doctor's father had been Nathaniel, 
the great navigator. 

On the mantelpiece, like the dirty thumbmark of life on an elegant print, 
was a crude picture of a man's branded hand. It was Captain Walker's, 
with S S for slave stealer burned into it for rescuing a shipload of slaves 
from bondage not many years before. 

Parker went to the back window and drew the edge of the shade aside 
to look out into the garden. There he caught sight of an incident so ordi- 
nary and yet so tender and exclusive that he envied the doctor more for it 
than another would the Stuarts and the distinguished ancestor. 

The Bowditches were sitting at tea under an apple tree. The doctor 
picked up the teapot, fumbled it and it dropped and shattered on the pink 
bricks of the walk. The doctor brushed his trousers, making a great to-do 
about ruining them. The doctor's two children were laughing wildly and 
his wife was looking at him with a great deal of natural irritation. 

— It's my finger, Ma, the doctor said. 

— Oh, you always blame everything on that poor finger, Henry, said his 
wife. — I think you broke just as many things before you hurt it as you 
do now. 

Then the doctor began to waltz and whirl about in the most ridiculous 
manner, singing horribly oflf-key in a mixture of garbled French, German 
and Latin medical terms. 

The wife laughed and shook her head at his silliness. But the children's 

34 2 

eyes were as big as saucers, not knowing how to judge their father. Not 
knowing whether to laugh at his antics or be disgusted, as children often 
are at their elders' lack of decorum. 

Before they could make up their minds the doctor stopped and said to 
the children with deep sincerity. — When I was in Paris I was offered 
eight hundred francs to perform this song and dance before the Emperor. 
I regret to this day that I had to refuse. 

Parker let out a great shout of laughter and the Bowditches looked up 
suddenly at the window. Mrs. Bowditch made herself busy picking up the 
shattered teapot to hide her embarrassment. But the doctor was not em- 
barrassed, and the children thought for many years after that the concert 
stage had lost a great artist when their father took up the dry study of 

The good Dr. Bowditch smiled broadly as he greeted Parker a little later 
in the study. 

— I've come to you, Doctor, said Parker, — because I think you are the 
most pious doctor I know. 

— Pious? asked the doctor with a baffled look. — That's the first time 
I've been called that. Most of my colleagues say the opposite. In fact, call 
me the most Parker doctor they know. Bowditch stopped for a moment. 
— That sounds rather insulting, doesn't it ? Well, let me tell you I consider 
it an honor nevertheless. 

Parker sat down trying to ease more breath into his lungs without seem- 
ing too sick. — I say that optimism is the piety of science. That is why I 
have come to seek you out. Dr. Howe says I'm sick and shouldn't work. I 
want you to prove how impious he is. 

Bowditch led Parker into his office. Parker started to take off his coat. 

— Wait, the doctor said, — don't strip down yet. Let's talk awhile. I've 
heard something about your indisposition. 

— My candle has been standing in a current of air and I've got to expect 
it to burn away faster than if all about it were still. Howe keeps telling me 
to rest, rest. But I can't, and I don't think it would do me a lot of good 

Parker, who had been looking about the room, turned suddenly on the 
doctor. — Are you looking at my eyes, Doctor? Yes, I've thought of that 
too. The pupils are greatly dilated. I've seen that so many times in con- 
sumptive people, so many times in my own brothers and sisters. I had ten, 
you know, and all but one died in the period from forty-four to forty-nine 
years. This August I will be forty-four. I have the feeling that if I can get 
by these five years, I will live to past eighty like my seven Parker fathers. 


I need twenty years after I stop preaching at sixty to contemplate and evalu- 
ate. And twenty years of work ahead. . . . 

The doctor sat quietly listening. He saw plainly the hysteria and strain. 
— Do you have any headaches? he said finally. 

— Oh yes, said Parker. — I've always had them. But they've got worse. 
They used to come and go. Now I have them all the time. That night at 
the meeting at Faneuil Hall I had ten rivers of fire running up the back of 
my neck and crossing and converging all over my skull. 

— Much of a cough ? asked the doctor. 

— Some cough and night sweats. But Howe doesn't think it's pulmonic. 
He thinks I might have had a typhoid infection. My pulse has been very 
fast, around ninety, and I thought I detected rales in the left bronchi . . . 
but they were small and bubbling. 

The doctor raised his eyebrows. — What's all this about rales? Did Dr. 
Howe tell you you had rales? 

— No, said Parker. — I have a stethoscope and I hunt around with it 
myself from time to time. 

— Then I can make my first prescription at once. Throw it away, said 
the doctor. — There are at least two dozen types of rales, each representing 
symptoms ranging from trivial to fatal. You shouldn't be interpreting them 
without a medical education. Do we doctors tell you how to preach a 
sermon ? 

— Yes, said Parker. — Dr. Howe tells me. 

They both laughed at this. The doctor studied him again. — Tell me a 
little about your early life, he said. — You were born in Lexington. That 
should be a healthy enough beginning. You were a farmer boy and spent a 
great deal of time in the outdoors. I can see that. You have a fine sturdy- 
looking body. Your chest looks about forty-two in expansion . . . right? 
Your weight varies between one fifty and one sixty. You stand about five 
eight or nine. Why should a man like you start inching over that bull chest 
with a stethoscope ? 

— I was born the eleventh child in a house built in 1709. There was a 
great bog about fifty rods from the house, wet all year through and chilly. 
Every night, I remember, the fog would roll up to the house. Do you won- 
der so many of my family have been stricken with consumption? 

Bowditch called him over to the wall, where a huge map of New Eng- 
land was hung. — Point me out the bog if you can, he said. — Pm keeping 
a record of bad spots here in New England. It's a pet theory of mine that 
certain locations do, as you say, breed lung disease. 

Parker pointed it out to him and sat down again. — The strange part of 


my family history is that the intemperate members, the drunkards that we 
lectured to and scorned, have escaped this tendency. 

— Then get drunk on your birthday and stay that way for the next five 
years, Bowditch said. 

— I would if I thought it would work, Parker said. — I mean it. I don't 
care what people would say. If I could get by this bad piece in the road, 
I'd do anything and expect God to forgive me. 

— Drink a little, Bowditch said. — It wouldn't do you any harm. It 
might hurt you socially. They call me Free-rum Bowditch now, you know, 
although I've never given much of it away. Drink whatever suits you, 
sherry or Monongahela. Not too much, of course. 

— Well, Parker said, — aren't you going to auscultate me? 

— Later, later. We're still in that farmhouse. When did you leave there ? 

— When I was twenty. Then I went to school and then got the parish at 
Roxbury. That was a very healthy site . . . beautiful fields . . . 

— How was your health in school ? 

— Oh, fine. I didn't have enough money to indulge in the usual college- 
boy excesses. I lived very simply. 

— On what? What did you eat? 

— Well, it seems hard to believe, but for a long time I got by on a 
cracker or two a day. 

Bowditch rose in indignation. — Why did you do that? To deny your- 
self the fleshpots ? Were you in with the faddists and Grahamites ? 

— I had to. I had no money for anything else. 

— I know, Bowditch said. — And I know the rest of your story. Then 
you started reading ten or fifteen hours a day, teaching school and doing 
a little laboring on the side. Never an evening with the fellows for a song 
or two and some knocking about. Then the Parish and a huge book to 
write, interminable sermons to deliver. Then the Music Hall, the Anti- 
Slavery Societies, prison reform, religious controversies, fugitive slaves, 
lectures, tours all over the country. Sitting up in trains all night so that 
you can get to Ohio and back between sermons. I know all that. I don't 
have to go looking for anything with a stethoscope. I could find more 
on the pages of your journal. 

Parker writhed unhappily in his chair. — I came here because I thought 
you wouldn't scold me. People are always scolding me, for doing what 
I can't help doing. I feel that God has entrusted me with certain powers 
and I must use them for my fellow man. I don't do any differently from 
Garrison and Wendell when they see four million of our brothers raising 
up their hands and saying, Speak for me. 


He got up excitedly. — I've looked the matter carefully over and think 
I can go through the winter safely and do my work. I come from a long- 
lived stock and I hope that I can find a way to survive. But it matters 
little if I do go through or go under, if I do my duty as I ought. 

Bowditch pressed him gently into the seat again. — Don't fight me, 
he said. — You're fighting everybody. 

— Everybody these last few days, Parker said. — I've lost my temper 
with more people these last few weeks than I have in my whole life. 

— You're overtired. You're at the breaking point. Now I don't intend 
to scold you or shut you off from your work. You must rest for the 
balance of the summer, I'm sure of that. You've got to get rid of these 
headaches. But I've got too much of a stake myself in what you're fight- 
ing for to put you on the shelf. We need you. 

Bowditch put some water into a small pan and began to heat it over 
a gas ring. He told Parker to strip to the waist and then began to wash 
his own hands for the examination. When Parker had taken off the 
necessary clothes he stood meekly before the doctor. Bowditch told him 
to stand near the window. The doctor studied the massive chest of the 
man before him. The left side was a bit sunken; there might be some- 
thing there. He marveled at the youngness and smoothness of Parker's 
skin and the rising, winged power of his broad back. It was shocking to 
see the gray beard falling to the young chest, spread with a triangular 
patch of fluffy, curly brown hair. Then he began to listen to the heart. 
After a moment of this he pulled his instrument away. 

— Have you anything on your mind right now that's disturbing you? 
I mean in addition to Burns, grand juries and all the phantasmagoria 
you've been through this month? 

— My heart is very fast, isn't it? Parker said. — Yes, Doctor, I have 
been greatly disturbed today. Henry Wilson came to see me this morning 
and hinted that I might have the nomination for Governor from the 
Know-Nothings if I joined up with them. 

— Why, the damn scoundrel, said the doctor. — Well, I wouldn't 
let that bother me for a minute. 

— It's not that. Henry means well and I don't think he'll stay with 
them long. But think of what it means! It means that the old political 
boundaries have become fluid all over the state, and perhaps all over 
the country. 

Bowditch nodded. He knew very well what it meant. — What about 
anti-slavery ? 

— They're going along with it, Parker said. — It's to become the Anti- 


Slavery Party in this state. He must have talked to others besides me. He 
must be sure of a lot of strength to buck the powers that be like this. He's 
a shrewd politician. 

— But they can't call themselves the Anti-Slavery Party! said Bowditch 
indignantly. — Not with that thing against the Catholics and secret 
meetings and all that trash. 

— Where else can the anti-slavery people go? Parker said. — This 
Brumaire, this vacuum that can be filled, requires an organization and a 
program. It requires a newspaper, willing workers who will canvass 
votes. You know all this, as an old Free-soiler. 

— But we have all that, Bowditch exclaimed. — We have the Liberator, 
willing workers, people trained in mass education. Look at the men we 
have, Wendell Phillips, Francis Jackson. . . . The doctor stopped, real- 
izing the absurdity of all this. The Liberator and the organization it 
represented was nonvoting. The Liberator was secessionist and carried 
on its masthead No Union with Slaveholders. 

— I can read your thoughts, Doctor, said Parker. 

— Surely they'll change their position, the doctor said, — Surely Garri- 
son is astute enough to see the turn of the tide? They must. Why don't 
you speak to them, plead with them to take a stand for an honest anti- 
slavery party in Massachusetts? 

— You speak to them, Doctor. You're closer to the society than I am. 
You're on the board of managers. I've never talked to Wendell about 
his nonvoting and he's never criticized my voting. It's better that way. 
We can work together on things without working on each other. That's 
why I came to see you today. 

The doctor laid down the stethoscope. — But I am the only one on 
the board who does not go for disunion. I've fought their position for 
years. I wouldn't want to raise it again on such short notice. 

— Afraid, Doctor? Parker said. 

— Certainly not. I've debated voting many times with Phillips and 
Edmund Quincy and they have been offensively sharp with me. I wouldn't 
try them again. On the other hand, I could bear anything from Garrison 
and he's roasted me too. But surely they must see . . . Look, you've got 
me all excited! 

He sat Parker on a chair and began to tap him and listen. But his 
mind wasn't on it and he had to stop for a minute. — There's a meeting 
tomorrow at Framingham. I had intended to drive out there anyway. I 
have an idea that there'll be an announcement then of a new line of 
attack in the Anti-Slavery Society. I feel it in my bones. I know there's 


something up because they've been having meetings of the board every 
night for a week. That must be it, I know it. 

He started to tap again and from the absorption he showed, Parker 
deduced that his mind was at rest on the question and Parker's spirits 
began to rise and his pulse perceptibly slackened. At the end Bowditch 
told him to dress. 

The doctor sat idle and preoccupied as Parker put on his upper clothing. 
Then he nodded his head abruptly to himself and got up. Parker felt 
a sense of foreboding and watched him nervously and intently. 

On a shelf near the shallow soapstone sink there was a beautiful box, 
polished to a glow and bound and clasped by soft gleaming brass. The 
doctor took it down with tender hands. His hesitancy and abstraction 
gave Parker the idea that it had nothing to do with medicine. He didn't 
handle it with the commonplace sureness of a toolcase of some kind. 
Parker thought perhaps it was some rare and finely wrought nautical 
instrument left the doctor by the great navigator. Parker's tension began 
to draw tighter again. He thought now that the doctor had some terrible 
ukase to deliver and was putting it off with a diverting discussion of some 
scientific point of common interest. 

The doctor drew out of a case what looked like a huge needle tipped 
with a triangular point and ending in a metallic tube. He held it delicately 
in his hand a moment and then laid it back on its blue velvet bed. — That's 
a trocar, he said. 

Parker came over to look at it. He gave an involuntary twitch of fear 
and turned away. He could almost feel it piercing his side, the tender 
left side that already had an arrow thrusting into it whenever he got 

The doctor closed the case and said. — Did you ever hear of the proc- 
ess of paracentesis, or of thoracentesis? As a Greek scholar, you probably 
can derive that it means tapping of the chest to remove accumulations of 
fluid. It's not a new thing exactly. 

— Hippocrates mentions opening the wall of the chest and draining 
it, Parker said. — I've just been studying a new edition from Paris. I was 
surprised to find out how much he knew. 

— Oh, what a blessing you are, said the doctor, — to quote our medical 
fathers, like a good round friar and his Thomas Aquinas. 

— I've often felt, Parker said, — that the doctors have as much right to 
live by old Hippocrates as the preachers by Moses and Elijah and the rest 
of their bloody old prophets. 

— They do, said the doctor, — as I have found to my dismay. 

34 8 

This instrument is one that I developed with help from Dr. Wyman. 
He took it up again from the box, admiring it in the light. — I say that 
I can remove fluid from the pleura with this without an incision, and 
with only a few moments of actual pain. It has become a minor cause 
celebre in the medical profession. I have been attacked on every side 
for merely suggesting it. Even my best friend, my dear old teacher, has 
opposed me because of it. My old Dr. Jackson rejects it, and says that 
pleuritic effusions are removed eventually by natural processes. The most 
noted surgeon in America says he would as soon send a bullet into the 
chest as plunge a trocar into it. Bowditch paused, carefully looking away 
from Parker. 

— Let me welcome you into the circle of defeated misfits, Doctor, said 
Parker. — You can take your place now in the Hall of Shame with Dr. 
Howe and his blind and deaf, Dr. Jackson and his ether, Horace Mann 
and his rejected schools, and Theodore Parker and his rejected theology. 
It doesn't take long for nature to dump the proper ingredients into the 
same bowl. 

— No wonder people think twice before espousing anti-slavery pub- 
licly and being linked with us, said Bowditch ruefully. 

— But if there is some connection between my illness and your dis- 
covery, said Parker calmly, — go ahead, Doctor. Let me be your iron ball; 
drop me from the tower. I shall consider it an honor. 

The doctor smiled. — You have fluid in the pleura. I know that. You 
have sharp pains in the side ? Parker nodded. 

— I wouldn't say this if I didn't have absolute faith in this process. 
There is another method in vogue now that causes intense suffering and 
is dangerous to life itself. 

— Then there is the answer for the rejection of your method, Doctor. 
You must never leave the suffering out. That is the dogma of medicine. 
You must suffer to be healed, you must be in torment to be shriven. 1 ? 
predict a continued lack of success for your process among medicine men 
and witch-doctors. 

— Then you . . . The doctor paused. 

— Oh, I will submit to your unholy touch. I demand it. You must 
pierce my breast now to ease my rebellious conscience. 

The doctor flipped the pages of his engagement book. — You should 
have it done soon, he said, — in the warm weather. You're going to shut 
up the Music Hall for the summer, aren't you ? How about the first week 
in August? 

Parker thought for a moment. — It's a little complicated. Will I be 


able to speak . . . how soon will I be able to speak after this operation? 

— Well, the doctor said, — it might tie you down for a few weeks. But 
I'm sure that you'll be shipshape again by September. 

Parker looked doubtful. — You know I have a childish fear of not be- 
ing able to talk. It's an obsession with me. I hate to tie myself down to a 
date right now. I might be arrested and I shall want to speak in my own 
defense. It's rather an awkward time. Then there is the political ques- 
tion ... I don't want to be laid up while the mob in broadcloth steal 
our revolution. They will, you know. Wilson and the others will take 
over our whole program. 

The doctor looked disturbed at this. — I know. And it will be the same 
mob in broadcloth that dragged Garrison down State Street with a rope 
around his neck. I was there; that was the day I became an Abolitionist. 
I recently met one of the leaders of that mob that Friday, and he began 
to congratulate me on our success, as he puts it. But I think we'll have 
our spokesman in Garrison. He'll see the light. Tomorrow we shall all 
become something else. I know it, I know it. All my piety is telling me 

But Bowditch closed the book without noting down a date for the 
operation. Parker looked around happily for his hat, ready to go. All his 
foolish fears seemed to be ended. The little needle would pierce to his 
entrails and let out the devil in there. 

He held out his hands. — Doctor, I'm ashamed to say two Sundays ago 
at the Music Hall I felt so wretched I turned and looked at the multitude 
as I left the stage and said to myself, This is the last time, O Parkie. But 
my lungs are all right then, Doctor? 

The doctor took a few steps toward the window and turned around 
again. — Are you going right home now? he asked, with an evasive air. 

— Yes, yes, Parker said. Then he felt his gladness pass away and the 
fear come back. My lungs, my lungs, he wanted to shriek, what about 
them, are they rotten? Shall I spit them out in a little while piece by 
piece ? Will my throat break away and float in clots to my mouth ? Will 
my speech become a gurgle of blood ? 

In silence the doctor put on his stovepipe hat and led Parker to the front 
door and down the granite steps to the street. He stopped to sniff at a 
flowering shrub and opened his throat and took several deep breaths, 
thumping his chest. Finally, as they walked along the tree-shaded street, 
he began to talk. 

— In 1808 my father was about thirty-five years old. In August, about 
twenty days after I came into the world, my father was making serious 


preparations to go out of it. He apparently had all the most advanced 
symptoms of phthisis ... a racking cough, haemoptysis, diarrhea, and 
general malaise; fever and debility. He made a certain decision, I don't 
know how he came to it. Perhaps from observing the condition of the sea- 
men on one of his ocean trips. But anyway, he packed up a bag, got into 
an open carriage, and drove off with a companion for a month, on what 
turned out to be a trip of over seven hundred miles. 

— On the first leg of his trip he landed up at an inn in Milton in mis- 
erable condition. He was coughing and spitting blood so fast and furiously 
that the innkeeper begged his chum to put him back in the carriage and 
bring him home to die. But he insisted on going on, and strangely enough 
began to feel better shortly after. His appetite came back and he began 
to enjoy the miserable tavern cooking more than his wholesome meals at 
home. Well, he made a grand circle from Connecticut through Vermont, 
and when he arrived back in Salem he was in tiptop shape. 

— He thereafter walked from three to six miles every day of his life 
and made every one of his children do likewise. Rain or shine, winter or 
summer, he forced us out into the air, and whenever we seemed tired or 
sluggish from our studies at school he packed us ofif to a farm for a week 
or so and locked the books up in a cupboard. 

— The remarkable thing was, in my opinion, that although he had 
married his cousin, who died at thirty-four of phthisis, none of his six 
surviving children had a speck of lung trouble and none of his children's 
children. . . . 

By this time they had got to a point halfway between his house and 

— I'm going to leave you here, Theodore. I've got to get back. To 
finish my story . . . After he died, thirty years later, we had an autopsy 
performed. He had passed away from a cancer of the stomach and that 
was well established, but in the tip of one lung there were some heavy 
scars giving evidence of his ancient trouble. 

Parker looked at him, finding nothing to say but understanding per- 

— Well, said the doctor. — I'll be after you tomorrow morning early, 
in my carriage, and we'll take a drive out to Framingham and see the 
Know-Somethings banish the Know-Nothings from our sacred battle- 

Ben Hallett and Nick Queeny sat behind drawn curtains in a hired hack 


pulled close to the woody delta at the fork of a private road in Brookline. 
Ben had found that the heart-shaped scraps of paper cut out and scattered 
over the Boston streets, particularly in the vicinity of State and Court, were 
invitations to a giant rally and clambake on the estate of a well-known 
merchant located at an expensive interval from the haunts of the poor, the 
humble and the Democrats. Not all were rich who were coming to see 
Sam, as they snickeringly said in the early dusk of the night before. The 
peepers counted seven omnibuses. One was clear up from Weymouth. But 
the biggest load came up in private carriages and four-horse carryalls. 
There was even a tallyho from Nahant with a horn-tooting footman on 
the back. 

The coachmen on these vehicles were dismissed and sent back a piece 
down the road and given a light supper and beer in a neighbor's barn. 
Ben's hack driver had recognized a friend among them and gone over 
there for the free drinks. Nick Queeny was wrathful at the Irishmen 
who drove their masters to this meeting and then ate the food and drank 
the small beer of their betrayers. — You can't blame them for eating the 
hand that's biting them, Ben said jocosely. 

Ben smacked his lips in grateful remembrance as he told Nick about 
the lovely meals he had eaten when he was in the Masons. 

— Are you a Mason? Nick asked in horror. 

— I passed through all of the degrees up to and including the thirty- 

He could hear Nick almost stop breathing. 

— And then I exposed them, Ben said. Nick let out his breath. — I 
learned every one of their foolish secrets and printed them up in a paper 
which I founded, the Anti-Masonic Inquirer. It later merged with the 
Boston Post. 

— It's a wonder they didn't kill you for it. 

— Oh, they made a few threats, Ben said, — but it didn't bother me. The 
more they threatened, the more rigmarole I trotted out. 

He closed his eyes and began to quote. — The man you saw peering 
and who was discovered and seized and conducted to death, is an emblem 
of those who come to be initiated into our sacred mysteries through a 
motive of curiosity and if so indiscreet as to divulge their obligation we 
are bound to take vengeance of the treason by the destruction of the traitor. 
Let us pray to the eternal to preserve our order from such evil in that 
degree to which you came, by your zeal, fervor and constancy. You have 
remarked that from all the favorites at that time in the Apartment of 
Solomon only nine were elected to avenge the death of Hiram Abiff . This 


makes good that a great many are called but few chosen. Pass from the 
Master's grip and seize his right arm above the elbow and place your 
left hand on his right shoulder. Give me the third token with your left 
hand, seize your brother's right elbow and with your right hand, his right 
shoulder. Give me the three passwords. Master Masons, Elhanon, Fellow 
Crafts repeated thrice. Give me the three Grand Words. First, Gibulum, 
second, Eh-yeh-asher-eh-yeh. What does that signify? I am what I am. 
The third, El-hodpdihu-kaw-lu. What does that word signify? God be 
praised we have finished. 

Ben threw back his head and laughed. — I nearly finished the whole 
thing around here before I was through! 

Nick laughed too. Ben was all right, he thought. — Was there anything 
against the Catholics in the rites? he asked. 

— They were worse than the Catholics with their mumbo-jumbo and 
coffins and ropes and cubic stones and ivory keys and pillars and brazen 
seas and pyramids and Father Adams and Prelates. Well, I finally wound 
up with the dishonorable degree of the adepts of the order of St. Judas 

— And you've been in it ever since, said Nick sourly. 

— Now don't take offense at what I said about the Catholics. Some of 
my best friends are Catholics and I can truly say that more than 50 per 
cent of the jobs I've handed out since I got in office have been to that faith. 
I built my friendship with them on my exposure of the Masons, and I 
think I deserve it. 

— Is that why you went with Garrison years ago, to expose him? said 
Nick slyly. 

The hack springs sagged as Ben shifted his weight uncomfortably. 
— You'd better get going now, Queeny, he ordered imperiously. — Just 
walk right in the gate. There's too many of them tonight to check you. 
Don't open your mouth inside. Just circle around and see if you can find 
the men I mentioned. 

Queeny stepped out into the soft night and closed the door quietly. When 
his footsteps had died up the road, Ben lit a candle and put a writing- 
board on his knees and began to work on the speech he was to give as a 
Fourth of July orator the next day. It was to be an attack and exposure 
of the Know-Nothings. He was to name names. He hoped that he could 
hurl the whole Parker coterie into infamy on his nation's natal day. 

Nick was frightened but he appeared bold as he walked up to the great 


stone gateposts of the estate. There were kerosene torches stuck in the rock 
clefts and he could see vast tables spread inside and the white-coated Negro 
waiters of Smith the Caterer moving about preparing the feast. There was 
a burly group of young men wearing broad-brimmed white felt hats stand- 
ing on guard, and just off the driveway was a carved mahogany table with 
a heavy book on it. Nick hesitated a moment and watched a group enter. 
Some of them did something with their hands, passed it across the face in 
a peculiar way and then shook hands with the sentinels in a guarded man- 
ner, whispering something in their ears. — Pass, said the guard. — Next 

Nick was appalled when he realized that the same thing that Ben had 
related was being repeated here. There were grips and signs and passwords 
and he didn't know them. He looked fearfully at the husky guards. He 
didn't want to be left by the road with a broken arm, over this. Then he 
saw three men shrug their shoulders in ignorance as the guard approached 
them. Nick took a step forward to join the group. But then he stepped 
back in a flash of horror. The men were now at the carved table and the 
guard made them put their hands on the book and swear a terrible oath. 
Nick could hear some of the words quite plainly. One of the men was 
drunk and couldn't seem to get it right. He had a Scotch brogue on him, 
two years out of Glasgow. 

The guard repeated it loudly and clearly in an exasperated voice. The 
hell with this, said Nick to himself and he went back to the hack. 

Ben was scribbling elegantly in the candlelight. He had blocked out the 
body of his speech, a ringing, rousing affirmation of the Party line in all 
its monolithic strength. When he felt a tugging at the door handle, he 
hurriedly blew out the candle and squeezed back in a corner. Nick got 
back into the hack with him. — What happened? Ben demanded. 

— I couldn't get in, Nick said. — They had guards at the gate. 

— Nonsense, blustered Ben. — There's over a thousand in there now. 
This is a mass meeting. How did the others get in? 

— They have some kind of a password and a secret grip. 

— Humm, mumbled Ben, silent for a moment or two. — They can't be 
that tightly organized at this point. What about new people ? They must 
have provisions for recruiting tonight? 

— Well, said Nick reluctantly, — they made some people touch the 
Book and swear an oath. 

— Why didn't you do that, you lunkhead? 

— It was an oath against the Holy Father, said Nick doggedly. 

— What of it? Ben said. — It's for a good cause, isn't it, that you're 


taking it? You don't have to say anything anyway ... just mumble like 
they do in court. 

— I couldn't swear on that Book. It's a Protestant Bible. 

Ben lit up a cigar. The darkness inside the stuffy hack made the ash 
glow like hell-fire, lighting up Ben's beefy face, and touched the tips of 
his pale standing cowlicks, making them look like gilded horns. Finally 
he said, — What difference does it make? A Bible is a Bible. 

— Not to me, Nick said. — There's a difference to me. 

Ben blew out an angry gust of smoke. — I'm surprised at you, Queeny. 
Here you have a chance to serve your country and you quibble at a little 
thing like that. What is this, a new higher-law doctrine like Parker's? 
No wonder people are against the Irish and say they can't be absorbed! 
Look what I did for you people when I went into the Masons. I took thou- 
sands of oaths and then went against my own kind to help the foreigners. 
It's God-damned ungrateful, if you ask me. 

Nick gave no answer but exhuded silent stubborn resistance. 

Ben decided to try a new attack. He laid his big fat hand on Nick's 
leg. — Look, Nick my boy. I respect your reluctance to go against your 
mother's teachings. You're a good son to her. But this is a big thing. 
You've got to sacrifice something here. Do you think you're the only one 
who ever had to do a thing like this? Come on, I know all about you 
people. What about the Jesuits? They do it all the time, don't they? 
They'll swear anything for a good end and you know it. It's a well-known 

— That's a lie, said Nick lashing out. Ben dropped his cigar in anger 
and swore and grunted as he tried to brush the live coals burning into his 
broadcloth trousers. Nick picked it up and handed it back to him. Ben 
took it as if it were a knife and he were going to thrust it back into 
Queeny 's eyes. Queeny sat back in the seat and folded his arms. Finally 
he spoke up in more respectful tones. — A sin is a sin, he said. 

Ben gave him a long heavy look of disgust and parted the curtain for 
a look outside. He turned back and said in a tired, sarcastic voice, — Look, 
Queeny, there's a wall out there that you can get over if I give you a boost. 
I hope you have no religious scruples over that. I seem to remember quite 
a few of your kinsmen desecrating the one at the State Prison. I want you 
in there tonight. 

Nick considered. He was now on the Marshal's staff as a deputy. Would 
it be wise to throw it up after he had worked so hard and licked 
so many boots? All right, he thought, I'll do it. But I won't give in too 


— Suppose I drop over the wall and one of those wide-awakes grabs me? 

— It's a half-mile from the gate. They'll all be drunk pretty soon any- 
way. I think you owe this to me, Queeny. Don't you? 

Nick sensed the ultimatum in Ben's voice and slowly opened the door. 
Ben climbed out after him and went to the wall. Nick climbed roughly 
on his shoulders and managed to give him a few good surreptitious kicks 
around the head and ears before he slipped over onto the grounds of the 
estate. Ben went back to the hack, lit the candle and resumed writing his 
speech. . . . The foul bigots and hoary knaves versed in political intrigue 
rave about the rights of the beastlike blacks of the South and try to set 
them to massacre their masters; but here in Massachusetts the hypocrites 
prey in secret, like big-bellied spiders, on the poor and noble oppressed 
Celts of their own race who flee from the English tyrants to our sheltering 
wings of liberty. Here are the names so that you may scorn them and keep 
out of their perfidious webs, called by such sweet-smelling names as Music 
Halls and Anti-Slavery Societies and Woman's Rights and all the other 
misleading titles full of the clap-trap humanitarianism they use to front 
their evil intent and trap honest men into the privilege of losing their legs, 
of buzzing without flying and being eaten up at leisure by the big-bellied 

This was the part where he'd add Parker and the rest and expose them 
and the fraudulent groups they had organized to hide their secret 
subversions. He looked continually at the blank space following this, 
coming back to it again and again from the latter parts of the speech. 
He was pretty impatient by the time Nick arrived an hour and a half 

— Well, who was there ? said Ben before Nick's buttocks had more than 
grazed the seat. 

— Wait till I get here, said Nick. As he breathed out, the fumes of an 
excellent brandy spread its fragrance into the stuffy cubicle. 

Ben rearranged his papers with the blank-spaced one on top and held 
his pencil up expectantly. — You'd better give them to me alphabetically, 
if you can. I want to list them all. Now, begin with A. 

— A. B. said Nick. — Anson Burlingame. You know the man that was 
with Dana when Louis Varelli slugged him? 

— Louis Varelli didn't slug him, it was Sullivan, I mean Huxford. 

— Varelli pushed him. They were both there. Huxford got caught, that's 

— Oh, never mind that now, said Ben impatiently. — Let's get on with 
the list. We don't want to be here all night. 


— That's all, said Nick. 

— What are you talking about, that's all? 

— What do you mean what am I talking about? I said what I'm talk- 
ing about. I said, that's all. 

— What did they do, offer you a better job in there? There must have 
been somebody else. I know Henry Wilson was there. 

— Yes, agreed Nick. — He was on the platform. The speakers were in 
a little summerhouse over by the hill about fifty feet from the house. But 
that's all. 

— You're not serious, said Ben with a bit of a wail in his voice. He 
held the candle up to Nick's face and found to his dismay that he was. 

— Let me refresh your memory, Ben said. — Dana, Phillips, Mr. May, 
the old feller, Parker . . . No? Charles Ellis? That reporter, I forget 
his name . . . Seth Webb? . . . Dr. Howe? Dr. Bowditch or his 
brother? Any of the Quincys? Was Sumner there? Hamilton Willis? 
Judge Russell? Browne from Salem? John Andrew? Davis from Ply- 
mouth ? 

To each name Nick shook his head, No. Ben grew more and more 
angry with a kind of panic mixed up in it. Then he leaned over and 
sniffed at Nick's mouth. 

— No wonder you couldn't see them. You're drunk! 

— I could see them all right, shouted Nick. — I saw who was there. 
There were a hell of a lot of Democrats there. Plenty of your friends and 
contributors. I saw them and I saw their names put down on a petition 
not to hire Irish in their stores and mills. I saw them pledge to put a tag 
on their ads for help, in the paper, that no Irish need apply! I saw more 
rich Democrats than any others. 

Nick took the candle out of Ben's hand and shoved it into his face. 

— What's going on anyway ? he demanded. — The boys over at the Navy 
Yard went on strike last week for a raise in their pay. How can a man 
with a family get on with two-fifty a day in these times? And the Demo- 
crats in the capital told them if they didn't drop it and go back to work 
they'd never be able to work in any government job again for the rest of 
their lives! 

Nick leaned back again, looking ruefully at the wax dropping like tears 
on his best coat. — It seems to me that the man was right who said that 
the Party has nothing left but the name. 

Ben didn't try to reply. He could hear the far-off trumpets of defeat 
in his ears. He crumpled his speech and cast it down on the floor of 
the hack. He thrust the curtains back to let in some air and light. All 


up the road the carriages were starting up and the men from the meet- 
ing had carried the torches out with them. They began to flicker past 
like flying luminous insects and then the tallyho rumbled by, the foot- 
man playing "John Peel" loud and sweet in the night out of feckless 





When I say, — My bed shall comfort me. 

My couch shall ease my complaint . . . 

Then thou scarest me with dreams, 

And terrifiest me through visions: 

So that my soul chooseth strangling, 

And death rather than these my bones. 

I loathe my life; I would not live always: 

Let me alone; for my days are vanity. 

What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him, 

And that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him, 

And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, 

And try him every moment? 

In the bedroom on Exeter Place the air was hot and still. The blackness 
outside the window was sometimes flashed by a vein of uprising golden 
smoke or a geyser of sparks from a fresh-fed street fire. The sulphurous 
fumes of exhausted fireworks came in and laid the bitter taste of gun- 
powder on the tongue. Parker lay wide-awake looking at the ceiling, 
shrinking from and trying to shut out the report of exploding crackers, 
but then waiting impatiently for the next one. He put his hands under 
his head and then began to feel in his solar plexus the empty, awesome 
feeling he got on Saturday nights, thinking of his sermon the next day. 
It was stronger almost, more like his Saturday-night feeling when away 
from home on a lecture tour and thus unable to preach. It then became awe 
and fear compounded with guilt. 

He tried to think of other things to drive it away, and shut his eyes de- 
termined not to lift them again and thus force slumber by the will. His 
hands went to his side and one of them struck against the silken thigh of 
Lydia, fast asleep beside him. He let the back of his hand stay against her, 


feeling her womanliness flow into him. Just that day while passing along 
the street, he had met the eye of a beautiful young woman and their glances 
had clung to each other and he had experienced an unfamiliar and un- 
speakable delight. He had put it down later to his illness and weakness. 
And now this, the hand unable to part from the thigh, the senses all 

. . . Why did the human hand always seek the roundness of things, the 
male hand always to the roundness and warmness of the female? Was it 
because of the ancient worship of trees but of course the worship came 
from the womanly limbs first, and then to the trees overarching to the 
stars; then why is woman compared always to a vine, not like a tree, man 
and woman two trees together entwining their arms and trunks . . . vine 
motif brought in by churchmen to make woman inferior . . . not by the 
Greeks surely for they were brutes in their lust but there was something 
graceful and aesthetic in their love adventures . . . cannot Greek free un- 
conventional love be linked with Christian morality . . . about Jews . . . 
they knew lechery, no language in the world so full of words for sexual 
mixing . . . 

And the sad, persistent scholar's mind ran through them as he lay un- 
sheeted on the hot bed. Subtly, almost of itself, the hand turned over on 
Lydia's thigh and began to cup it with the palm and probing fingers. 

. . . What of Christ and the bed . . . very little there, only of the Saint 
Theresas and the Saint Bridgets, calling him to their sole and joyless 
couches, it was not the particular satisfaction they wanted that the phan- 
tom brought, religion could not take the place of the finite affections, no 
never, never, nor the ear for the eye, one thing cannot take the place of a 
different thing . . . 

Lydia turned and whimpered in the heat and with fumbling, uncon- 
scious cruelty swept his hand away from her. 

He put his hands straight at his side and lay rigid as iron now, hurt and 
aching, falsely assuming complete rejection. He began to think of what 
Bowditch said about his father and the tainted wife not passing down the 
venom in their loins unto their issue. 

. . . No, it was not true: they did; else why in his family had so many 
been clawed by the venomous cat? And so he must say good-by to the 
earthly joy which had flowered from his internal life; no children now, 
none before but there was some hope before, but now must be an old 
maid, bettying through his life, the rest . . . 

. . . But if only children, dearest object of affections at hand, how 
strange that he, more than any full of affectional pull toward them, should 


never get that happiness! Better to be away from woman altogether, have 
own room, less torment. . . . 

He turned on his side, back toward Lydia in symbolic renunciation. 
But no, it was acute discomfort, his arm pressed beneath him, his head too 
heavy on the downward side. 

. . . No, no, cannot give up the mere presence of womanliness, incar- 
nate, fragrant, subtlety of mind, subtlety of woman divesting of her gar- 
ments, no, not to shut that out of my life and put strangeness on it, stay 
here . . . 

He rolled back and lay face upward again. 

... A man's courtship begins after marriage anyway, he has to piece 
out a wife, a little here and a little there; sometimes there are joys just 
short of the passional part, but the spring of my life can never be intellect 
or reform but only in the affections . . . from these comes my only delight 
... oh sad, sad it will be from now on . . . 

He put the force of his brain heavily to the shutting-out of this. He went 
back to the crisscross of his past life in the game that children play and the 
children of darkness, sad grown children. 

... If I had done this instead of that, thus and so would have happened 
and stopped this sorrow and that sorrow and the humiliation of that mis- 
take . . . 

... If I hadn't pleaded with Burns he would have gone quietly and 
had no reprisals put upon him, no before that, if I had not gone to such 
efforts to form the Vigilance Committee and beg the fugitives not to leave 
town because of the law and pleaded with those gone to return and take 
up their homes and businesses under protection of the committee . . . yes, 
committee . . . start there and follow the fever chart of error and confu- 
sion printed harshly on the calm whiteness of might-have-been . . . 

He could see every inch of the ceiling now; the friendly darkness had 
gone from the room, there was a flash holding onto the walls. He began 
whirling around and around, his head and toes heavy with swinging and 
his solar plexus tense and knotted, a hub of iron. 

. . . Why must I spin like this, what pulls me around from one con- 
clusion to another, ambiguity my torment? Where am I wrong, where 
does it start, when can I end it, why can't I confess, lay my burden 
down . . . ? 

.... Because I have no son to carry it for me, because I do not fear 
enough, bow enough, yield enough, is there no strength in love? 

What must I confess? . . . 

... I doubt ... I have conspired for conscience' sake and now I have 


a dogma of the mind . . . The Higher Law, the Will of God . . . 
scraped on the tablet of my flesh . . . but I am doomed, my flesh is sick, 
corrupt . . . How could God have joined it to an absolute ... I doubt 
... I cannot cry credo and be done with it . . . 

His disembodied hands groped in an appeal among the books upstairs, 
seeking a testament of freedom . . . But the Hebrew Commonwealth is 
gone and Greece ... all free commonwealths of old gone and the old 
free cities, German, Swiss, of Italy gone . . . All have perished. 

Below his groping hands his body was erect and spinning in a whirl- 
pool, the current shunted off, the circle endless, his toes were reaching 
down for the rock beneath, the steady base, the hard pack, the unequivo- 
cating affirmation. 

. . . And left in continuity a single man . . . with him the viable abso- 
lute . . . sitting with the crown and miter, on the Etruscan rock, under 
St. Peter's Dome two thousand years . . . God's will be done. God's will 
is fear . . . 

He heard the rattle of a carriage and the clumping of horses coming for 
him, a pale horse and an open hearse and an open coffin; and it wound 
around and around a rutted road and stopped at a shoemaker's shop. 

He began to weep and he sensed that his tears were awake and real and 
began to feel the convulsion of his sobs shake the corporeal bed. He held 
his hands close to his quaking sides so as not to awaken his wife beside 
him. He felt a sudden recognition of time. It was like birthday time, birth- 
day eve, the hateful bitter milestones on the road of his failure. He could 
hear now in coming wakefulness the scattered reports of faraway cannon 
crackers and the shouts of drunken joymakers, his country's birthday, slip- 
ping downhill into the slough of failure and irresolution. 

. . . O God, why have you given finality to one man only, why have 
you denied the democracy of the spirit ? 

Then the warm tears on his cheeks came like the current he sought 
and he stood at last on a firm base, for there was a Luther, a Paul, a Jesus 
without fear, and there was a man today who has been tender, loving, 
selfless and resolved, a man without fear. 

He sat up in the bed and dropped one leg over the side. He must seek 
him out in the murky streets among the artificial thunder of echoing ex- 
plosions and knock at his door and bless him for merely living in this 
age and within his reach and being his neighbor and most wonderful of 
all, his parishioner. He must see Garrison, he must give up his burden 
there, find finality coming out of love instead of fear. 

He felt Lydia rise beside him. — Go to sleep, dear, she said. 


— I've got to see Garrison, see Garrison, he mumbled. 

She seized his shoulders and drew him down back beside her, cradling 
his burning head like an infant between her breasts. 

— Tomorrow, she murmured, — you'll see him tomorrow. 

— Tomorrow, he whispered, passing off into dreamless oblivion. 





All the days of my warfare would I wait, 

Till my release should come. 

Thou shouldest call, and I would answer thee: 

Thou wouldest have a desire to the wor\ of thine hands. 

But now thou numberest my steps: 

And surely the mountain falling cometh to nought, 

And the roc\ is removed out of its place; 

The waters wear the stones; 

The overflowings thereof wash away the dust of the earth; 

And thou destroyest the hope of man. 

Thou pre vail est for ever against him, and he passeth; 

Thou changest his countenance , and sendest him away. 

His sons come to honour, and he \noweth it not; 

And they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them. 

But his flesh upon him hath pain, 

And his soul within him mourneth. 

When the doctor's gig finally came to Parker's house in the bright early 
hours of the morning, Parker was composed and controlled. He stepped 
out into the sun and glanced quickly at the doctor's horse. It was a plump 
and saucy mare with beautiful ankles and dancing feet and with a coat of 
glossy shining deep-toned red. 

— Isn't Fanny a beauty ? the doctor said, pulling Parker up into the seat 
beside him. When they started off, he told his passenger to relax and let 
his body move with the carriage. — It's a good form of exercise to be tossed 
around a little, that's why I always wear my easy coat while driving 
around. I see you're up in your full black. 

Parker was carefully dressed in full black broadcloth and with a new 
hat he had never worn before. 

— Feel as if I'm going to a funeral, Parker said. 


The doctor said nothing about this and they kept silence until they were 
almost out of town and onto the Framingham Pike. 

— How do my eyes look this morning? Parker asked, turning to face 
him. The doctor looked briefly at him and turned away, listening to the 
chook-chook of the hoofs. Parker kept his face toward him. Finally the 
doctor said, — There isn't as much in that eye business as some doctors 
say. I judge more by the full face. I can generally tell before I examine 
the chest at all. 

— What about the face ? said Parker with morbid eagerness. — Paleness, 
perhaps, or a muscular twitch? 

— No, nothing special. It's hard to say. I just know. I have many 
consumptive people visiting me daily. You should know. You have 
people coming to you every day with troubles on their souls. You know 
what it is and how deep it is without having to probe around, don't 

Parker turned his head away nodding in agreement. 

— You can almost tell a radical in the same way. I often see a man pass 
by in the streets and know that he's one of us without knowing anything 
else about him. The doctor smiled. — The stuff about the complexion is 
rich. I saw the consumptive's look on that poor Negro in the Courthouse. 
Early stages, but there. 

— Anthony Burns? Then he'll die from this? 

The doctor gave him a puzzled look. He touched the mare lightly with 
the whip to change her pace and brighten the tempo of the ride. 

As they trotted past the tollhouse near the West Bridge, the doctor said, 
— Let's not gloom all the way to Framingham. Do you remember what 
happened here about four years ago this time? 

— Yes. I married William and Ellen Crafts and hid them away up in 
my attic from the slave catchers. 

— I'll never forget it, said the doctor. — It was just about here by the 
embankment. I had Ellen hidden away in this carriage. I had picked her 
up in Brookline minutes before the Marshal had come after her. They 
told me I'd meet a man on this side of the bridge who would take over 
and hide her away. I don't know what I expected to see . . . someone in 
boots, at least, with a pistol. I galloped poor Fanny all the way over the 
bridge and when I got here I saw only one man. And he was ambling 
along without a care in the world, eating an apple. Can this be the de- 
liverer, I asked myself. Surely not, with an apple in one hand and a book 
in the other. But it was you and you were the deliverer, but you didn't look 
your part at all. 


— But I borrowed your pistol after I threw the apple away and kept it 
loaded on my desk all the time she was in my house. 

— I'm afraid you threw something else away with the apple, Theodore. 
Have you lost that famous composure and optimism? It isn't like you to 
be morbid like this, worrying about the look in your eyes. Is it because 
of what I said about my father? 

Parker slumped down in his seat, turtling his head in his big shoulders 
and tapping his fingers together, steeple fashion. 

— No, Doctor. I suspected that my lungs were diseased. But today, two 
great questions are going to be answered for me. One by you, and the 
other by Garrison. If they come out right, we can tee-hee-hee all the way 

The doctor let the horse slow down into a walk again, slackening his 
hold on the reins. — All right, shoot. Let's get it over with. 

— I mentioned it yesterday but you didn't comment on it. I'll put it 
again. This thing I have is a family disease. I've been studying it and 
thinking about it all my life, as some people study their blood lines or the 
quarterings on their crests. And I have come to this conclusion: There is 
a critical period in the lives of all the Parkers. This period is five years 
long, and occurs precisely between the ages of forty-four and forty-nine. 
I know of eleven who have died within that period. Five were my own 
brothers and sisters. But the ones that got past that bad spot lived to be 
eighty or more. I have a brother now nearing sixty and he looks better than 
I do. 

— How old was your father when he died? 

— Over eighty. Now, I am beginning the critical period myself. Do you 
think if I live through it, I will get round the cape ? 

The doctor shook his head. — I don't think I can answer that. I don't 
think you can back life into a corner and make it beat time like a metro- 

— But there must be something to the time element. Your own father 
was the first insurance actuary. If he hadn't been able to compute the 
average life-span of a man and set his principles on it, his company would 
have gone bankrupt. 

— But he set it on an average man. How are we going to measure 
your day? Since May twenty-sixth, you have lived the excitement and ten- 
sions of a dozen average men. How can we tie you down to a calendar 
year ? If you've got five years, you've squandered three of them in the last 
month. If you want to make that experiment, you must immobilize your- 
self. You must become a mollusk sitting on the river bed. 

3 66 

— I can't take the leap off Niagara and stop halfway down, Parker said 
sitting bolt upright. 

— The sentence of death is passed on all of us, said the doctor. 

— And the sentence of life. I think it has set a purpose for me and I 
intend to carry it out. But I must have time. Not more life or less life or 
anything extra for myself, but just enough to serve my purpose. 

— But you are serving your purpose, have been supremely in the last 
few weeks, and it is killing you. 

— Stump speaking? That's not what I was intended for. I have to steal 
the time to do that. That isn't why I have learned twenty-eight languages 
and built up my library with every cent I can spare. 

— Come now, said the doctor, — you can't back history into a corner any 
more than you can life. The Adamses and the Jeflersons and the rest plot- 
ted the Revolution for years, but it was your own farmer grandfather that 
stood up on Lexington Green and fired the shot and set it in motion. 
Someone's got to stand up again and fire a shot for freedom. Perhaps you 
inherited his place. Don't you ever hear a voice saying, Thou art the 

— If I have, I've ignored it. I've just read a book by a German exile liv- 
ing in London by the name of Marx. He pointed out that Hegel's observa- 
tion that all great historical facts and personages occur twice was incom- 
plete, because although the first time they occur as tragedy, the second is 
as a farce. That's what happened that night at Faneuil Hall. What if I 
had been able to carry out the plan, to get that whole crowd united behind 
me, and what if I ran to the Courthouse and put a bullet through Watson 
Freeman and rescued Burns? What if that had happened? Wouldn't that 
have been glorious ? Think of my trial. That would have told the country 
what time it is. 

Bowditch nodded sadly. — Why didn't it happen? 

— I don't know. Perhaps I've read too many books, including the last- 
mentioned. My intellect told me it wouldn't work. 

— Oh, let's not talk any more about it, said the doctor. — It wouldn't 
have been worth it, anyway. They might have hanged you. You would 
have been sentenced all the way through to the Supreme Court. 

Parker gave a harsh cynical laugh. — What if I had been hanged? I'm 
going to die anyway soon enough. Better a martyr's grave. 

— You don't know whether you'll die. 

— I don't know whether I'll live either. That's the trouble with you 
doctors. You haven't even learned to tell time. If I knew I was going to 
live, I could do my rightful work. If I knew I was going to die, I could 


have forced this country to stand up and say what you do to this man 
with the machinery of government will decide whether the idea of free- 
dom will survive or perish. And we would see the flocks divided and 
know our strength, before it is too late and brother kills his brother over it. 

The horse was disturbed by Parker's rough voice, loud in its passion, 
and began to trot again. She shook her head and strode sideways as if she 
were angry at the profanation of the beauty and calmness of the morning. 
The reins that had been lying in the doctor's lap slithered off to the floor. 
As the doctor bent to retrieve them, he was conscious of the high wheel 
rolling behind him. He could hear it grating harshly on the gravel and 
crunching over the loose stones and snapping them into the gutter. 

He drew the reins tight on Fanny's neck to even out her irritable gait. 
It took some steady pulling to quiet the horse down because she knew too 
that the doctor had caught a Tartar. Sooner or later Parker took the reins 
away from everyone he talked to. He did it to the lawyers when he ques- 
tioned them. Also other ministers. Also the merchants. Also the politicians. 

The doctor gave Parker a sidelong glance to see whether there was a 
tiny smirk of self-satisfaction on his face or whether he was sitting with 
his chest inflated. But no, he was as limp as a child in its mother's arms, 
trying with desperate concentration to relax and yield to the tossing of 
the carriage, for his health's sake, as the doctor had ordered. 

After a while, as they clopped slowly up a hill, the doctor said he hoped 
Parker would have more luck with the question he wanted Garrison to 

— Oh, Garrison isn't going to answer it, said Parker. — He'll put it, 
the country will answer it. In that way we can tell the state of the nation's 

— Hasn't he been putting it for the last twenty years? 

— As a reformer, not as a politician. 

— But we've never had any luck with politicians. We thought Webster 
was our man once, and look where he ended up! Why do you think one 
man can settle the question, and why Garrison? 

— I had a revelation last night and it said a single-minded man must 
come forward, like Paul and Luther of old and stand for the half-felt de- 
sires of the people. A single-minded man, not a double thinker like a poli- 
tician trying to win an election first and striking a blow for humanity 
second. It is Garrison's question that will settle the impasse in the end, 
and most people know it. They must come together but Garrison must 
take the first step. He must stop rejecting them with his no-union position. 

— What makes you think he'll change after all these years? 

3 68 

— He's at least as smart as Henry Wilson. If this event told Wilson he 
can win an election on an anti-slavery platform, Garrison should reverse 
it and win anti-slavery on an election platform. 

— But Wilson is using it as a side issue to the anti-Catholic thing. Would 
Garrison ? 

— Of course not. That's another reason why he must act politically now. 
He must prevent anti-slavery from letting the Know-Nothings take over 
their power. The people are confused and resentful of the old parties. 
They want a man to believe in. They shy away from revolutionary ideas, 
but a man whose public life is already noble and selfless will develop the 
people into accepting such measures as the new idea requires. They will 
support him, follow him. And even if he does not win, we will know how 
much strength real principle openly stated can achieve. 

— I think you're a better man for that than he is. 

— I'm not single-minded. But I am his preacher and I hope he listens 
to me. He was sitting before me when I preached my sermon on the Burns 
case. As I ended, I prayed for political action to rise out of his conscience 
and save the land from fire and blood. He must answer me today. 

They reached the top of the hill and began to roll down the other side. 
Fanny lengthened her strides. — Poor Fanny, said the doctor. — She has 
to run so much faster down the hill. It would be all right, I suppose, if 
she knew where she was going. What do you really want in life, Theo- 
dore, or is that too personal? 

Parker straightened out. He planted his feet against the dashboard and 
his shoulders smack against the cushion. — I have preached many times 
about men who have died and it is always that question that sums up his 
life. That and another. What did he want and what did he get? I want to 
write a bill of rights for religion. When was the last time you went to 
church, Doctor, not counting the Music Hall? 

— Dear me, not for years. Their ceremonies seem unholy to me. I never 
feel prayerful when I enter a congregation. 

— You are the rock on which I want to build my church. The bounda- 
ries of religion are becoming as fluid as those of politics. People like you 
have no place to go. You cannot enter into a compact which does not 
affirm the rights of man. You know astronomy has destroyed the idea of 
a local heaven, that geology has done away with the whim of a six-day 
creation and of a local hell. You know that biology makes death natural 
instead of penal; that anthropology denies the descent of man from a sin- 
gle pair. Psychology explains visions, ecstasies, et cetera as not being 
miraculous. Comparative religion shows that Christianity is only one of 


many forms in which there exists a history of inspiration, revelation and 
scripture. Now do you see the magnitude of the task before me? Now do 
you see why I am so jealous of time, why the hands of the clock are like 
the point of a gun held to my head? I am no Luther, but this is a thing 
I can do. I have starved for it, slaved for it. I have preached it in my church 
each Sunday and all the country around. And I have struck a spark and I 
can build a fire to burn up all the old clutter and filth and shame that 
stands between man and his eternal revelation of God within him. But 
they always come to my study and say, a man is being put into bondage 
today, tomorrow; and I have to put by the task God meant me to do. 
Someone must resolve this question, Doctor, while I have a little time. 
Men shouldn't have to worry about this minimum of freedom in a coun- 
try like this. We must all be free to strive for our maximum, the purpose 
of our lives. 

They were down the hill now and on level ground. Fanny kept step- 
ping out and they rolled along. Parker took his feet away from the dash- 
board and let them hang slackly on the floor and he let his body bounce, 
bounce, bounce, to shake the badness out of his lungs while he rinsed them 
again and again with deep, rib-straining draughts of the country air. 

When they finally got to the Grove at Framingham, the ceremonies 
were in progress and the crowd in attendance upon the speakers. About 
three thousand people stood in a great ring on the still-wet grass. 

Parker was struck with a fine parable as he walked toward them. They 
were like a pod of whales described by a recent writer, a sea-going ob- 
server with a fine sense of the conscience of man. They were like a pod of 
whales in reverse, standing on a sea of grass, as cold in color as the Arctic 

The outer ring was composed of children, running and playing in stifled 
happy voices. In the next ring were their plump mothers, chatting and 
observing their young and the shape and skins of the other cows. And 
then, two by two, idled the young lovers, male and female moving away 
from each other and then closing in, clipping and kissing and furtively 
nuzzling. In dead center were the great long bulls, listening and nodding 
and slowly waving their flukes. 

As he and Bowditch pushed through to the center, he drew the simile 
on, seeing them as warm animals in a cold climate, on the outside conform- 
ing to the others in shape and structure but filled inside with misfit en- 
trails. Entrails ill adapted to the thick element surrounding them, entrails 


that made them come reluctantly to the surface and ease the burden of 
their lungs in a great spurt of air that carried the water with it and be- 
trayed their presence to their enemies. Not great killers of their own kind, 
but killed by man for the light and fragrance they give off after their life's 
blood has been let out and they are rendered down by fires of their own 
flesh's feeding. 

When Parker got near enough to the platform, Garrison had stopped 
his speaking and had kindled a sacrificial fire on a huge pewter plate. Then 
he held high a paper. — This is Judge Loring's finding of the rendition, 
he said and he held it into the flame. The multitude cheered and few 
hissed. — This is Judge Curtis's charge to the jury, he cried, and he 
dipped it to be consumed in the flame. — And this, he cried, holding up a 
larger, yellower, more massive document, — is the Constitution of these 
United States. I consign it to the cleansing and destroying flame. So per- 
ishes the source and parent of all atrocities, a covenant with death and an 
agreement with hell! He held it high while it flamed between his tender 
fingers, holding it to the last and then dropping and crushing the curled 
:arbon of its corpse under his foot. And the multitude cheered and cried, 
— Amen. — So perish all compromises with tyranny, and let the people 
say Amen. 

And so for the second time that month, the second time in his life, the 
Amen stuck in Parker's throat. He looked about and heard the multitude 
roar on and he saw men there that hissed like a hundred snakes and he 
:ould not join with either of them again. 

He looked at Dr. Bowditch who was applauding wildly and who had 
not stopped to take off his easy coat. — Amen, Amen, the good doctor 
was shouting. 

The doctor looked suddenly at Parker and saw his despair. He stopped 
to rest his burning hands, seeking for something to say to take Parker's 
mind from what must have been an unintentional betrayal from the man 
he loved. 

He saw a little, narrow-shouldered, Indian-faced kind of man rising on 
the platform to make an address. He poked Parker in the side, calling his 
attention to the next speaker. 

— There, he has it on his face. The look I was telling you about this 
morning. He's another one of those chamber-dwellers, a fanatical student, 
living and breathing the dust of the books and the smell of the attic lamp. 

Parker gave a short bitter laugh. He felt like saying, You couldn't be 
more wrong, my scientific friend. That is a neighbor of mine, a Concord 
man named Henry Thoreau, and he spends as much time in dusty attics 


as a muskrat does. . . . But instead, he turned on his heel and began to 
work his way out of the crowd. 

The doctor thought to follow him but then was arrested by the quiet 
indignation, not to say desperation, of the speaker before him. 

— I lately attended a meeting of the citizens of Concord, said Henry, 
standing straight as an arrow, — expecting, as one among many, to speak 
on the subject of slavery in Massachusetts, but I was surprised and dis- 
appointed to find what had called my fellow townsmen together was the 
destiny of Nebraska and not of Massachusetts, and that what I had to 
say was entirely out of order. I had thought that the house was on fire 
and not the prairie, but though several of the citizens of Massachusetts are 
now in prison for attempting to rescue a slave from her own clutches, not 
one of the speakers at that meeting expressed regret for it, not one even 
referred to it. It was only the disposition of some wild lands a thousand 
miles ofT that appeared to concern them. There is not one slave in Ne- 
braska; there are perhaps a million slaves in Massachusetts. 

The doctor found himself rooted to the spot; he looked around, trying 
to see where Parker had got to. The speaker went on: 

— They who have been bred in the school of politics fail now and al- 
ways to face the facts. Their measures are half-measures and makeshifts 
merely. They put off the day of settlement indefinitely and meanwhile the 
debts accumulate among their faint resolves. 

The doctor gave up joining Parker and bringing him back. . . . It's just 
as well he's not listening to this, he thought. . . . But I must stay on. Oh, 
what a pity that mark must lie on this young man's face. 

Parker had elbowed his way almost to the outer ring but was now some- 
what impeded by the congeries of females who had turned and begun to 
listen to the young speaker, whose earnestness and slenderness were scor- 
ing heavily on their affections. He stopped a moment and looked back, 
waiting for a clump of matrons to haul themselves up off the grass. 

— I have lived for the last month . . . and I think every man in Massa- 
chusetts capable of the sentiment of patriotism must have had a similar 
experience . . . with a sense of having suffered a vast and indefinite loss. 
I did not at first know what ailed me. At last it occurred to me that what 
I had lost was a country. 

Parker broke through at this and walked away. . . . Young Thoreau 
never had a country, he thought bitterly, or a sweetheart, or a wife or 
anything he could love with the afifectional sense. In fact he had no affec- 
tional sense. Then he didn't know what he was talking about. Young 
Thoreau had a conscience but it was in his eye and he judged everything 


by what he saw and nothing by what he felt. He didn't know that a man 
could love a whore and make her the mother of his children. 

... As for Garrison, his conscience was in his head and was pulseless. 
He couldn't tell what time it was. The time would have to be told by 
someone without clear reason, without clear eyes. Someone who might 
say, I have a little lamb that has fallen in a ditch and I must save it. 

Sometime after, the doctor went looking for Parker. Strolling under 
some oaks and by a little stream he saw a small graveyard, the ever-present 
one that stands by every place of jollity in New England like the coffin at 
an Egyptian feast. Sure enough, there was Parker sitting on a mound,, 
chewing a blade of grass. 

— You didn't get what you wanted, said the doctor. 

— I'll do it myself if I'm indicted. I'll spend the whole summer writing 
a defense. 

— What about the operation? What about the rest? 

— Later. 

The doctor pulled him to his feet. — Well, said the doctor, — I don't 
think anyone has really got what they wanted. 

— He did, said Parker pointing at the gravestone. — Read it. 

In joy sedate, in suffering much composed, 
Serene through life and peaceful when it closed. 
Go live with God who called thee hence away, 
Go reign with him in everlasting day. 
These rites, this monument, this verse receive, 
'Tis all a wife, all a friend can give. 





Should not the multitude of words be answered? 

And should a man full of tal\ be justified? 

Should thy boastings ma\e men hold their peace? 

And when thou moc\est, shall no man ma\e thee ashamed? 

For thou say est, — My doctrine is pure, 

And I am clean in thine eyes . . . 

But oh that God would spea\, 

And open his lips against thee; 

And that he would show thee the secrets of wisdom, 

That it is manifold in effectual wording! 

Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth. 

On the first Sunday after the fall elections, Ben summoned Asa Butman 
and Queeny to his office. The voting had proved a debacle to the Demo- 
crats and wiped out the Whig Party entirely. The Know-Nothings had 
swept the state and elected the Governor, their entire delegation to 
Congress, and the Legislature; which in turn had sent Henry Wilson to 
the United States Senate. 

Ben meant to be sharp with them this morning, and he turned on 
them savagely as they sauntered through the door, creaking in their 
Sunday starchings. 

— Gentlemen, do you suppose you could get your backsides out of 
the butter tub long enough to realize, comprehend or become aware 
of the fact that your country is in a war? 

They stared at him with stupefaction. Asa murmured a Jesus. 

— And that we have lost the first battle ? 

— Honest to God, Ben . . . said Asa. 

— Ben, Ben, mimicked Hallet. — Not only have we lost the battle but 
your captain has had his chevrons shot off. Don't call me Ben, he roared. 


— Yes, sir, Mr. Hallett, said Asa. — Where's the war? Cuba? Where, 

— Right here, you cockeyed fool. In a routine election with the op- 
position whipped before a gun was fired, we've been swept out of 
office. Suddenly, overnight, there's a whole new government on the 
Hill. Isn't the war enough for you? You're not killed but you might 
lose your job and have to go to work; there's no choice there, is there, 

— No, Mr. Hallett. 

— Is there, Queeny ? 

— No, sir. 

Ben was rather mollified by their gravity. — It looks bad for me too, 
he said. — It won't stop here, you know. This trick of theirs of printing up 
a ballot the night before the polls open and throwing it in could spread 
all over the country. They could do it in '56 nationally, and then where 
would the Party . . . where would the country be? 

— How can we stop them? Ain't no law against secret 'lections. 

— How you going to stop 'em, Asa? Drag them out into the light of 
day and show them as part of an armed conspiracy. No darkness or 
hocus-pocus can conceal an enemy if he's carrying a gun ... a gun 
that's pointed at the heart of the Republic. 

— Didn't know they was armed, said Asa, shaking his head. 

— They were on the night of May twenty-sixth, when the whole thing 
began. The Burns case started this, you know. And the Burns case will 
finish them. This nation has sunk so low it will tolerate a secret party, 
but I don't think it will stomach its leaders bearing arms and shooting 
U.S. Marshals. 

— Aw, Ben, said Asa wearily. — We tried that twice now. 

— Not with the Judge's brother-in-law on the grand jury we didn't. 
Not with yours truly giving the law to the grand jury as I will this 
time. I want you to get up to Worcester and get a good look at every 
member of Higginson's infidel congregation. Then I want you to go to 
every gunsmith in town and describe every one of them to him, and see if 
he sold any firearms on the morning of May twenty-sixth. I'm going to 
present that jury with three witnesses. Mr. Asa Butman to tell them that 
Mr. Stowell or one of the other Worcester men came to Boston with a 
pistol and met with the speakers before the Faneuil Hall meeting and 
planned to attack and shoot to kill. And I'm going to prove connection 
with Nick Queeny's testimony of the conference held in Parker's home 
ten days later of the go-between Higginson and the speakers. My third 


witness will be the corpse of one Batchekler with a bullet hole and a hunk 
of lead in his gizzard. 

— Oh God, Ben, said Asa. — Can't you let the poor man's body rest 
in peace? It's shameful enough now the way they haven't done anything 
for the widow and all. 

— I'm not going to bring the carcass in there, you clown. If you can 
prove possession of firearms on the Worcester men, I'll get an order to 
exhume, and we'll get a new coroner's report of death by bullet wounds. 
Now go down and get the Worcester train. I'm late for church as it is. 

As the three of them got up to go, Nick Queeny said something in a 
low tone to Butman and Asa spoke up to Ben. — What about our ex- 
penses, Ben? 

— Expenses! exploded Ben. — Now that's a fine one. Don't you ever 
get tired of putting your hand into the government's pocket? Here you 
are just back from an extensive sea voyage at government expense, from 
being wined and dined and lionized by the citizens of two great cities of 
the South, and you're worried about the fare to Worcester. The church 
will cost you nothing. It's called the Free Church of Worcester. You can 
go in for nothing and that's what you get there and you'll dine on a 
bucket of ale. You know I can't put any more expenses on the books for 
this affair. It's cost the government over thirty thousand as it stands, 
and we've got a civil suit coming up against the Marshal for injuries to 
a bystander. Good God, man, haven't you a particle of patriotic spirit 
in you? Are you going to exact tribute from your country in her hour 
of peril? 

— We've got to have something for it, whined Asa. — How about a 
cash-on-delivery deal if we get the goods on 'em? 

Ben shook his head. — Can't do anything officially, Asa, except the 
customary favors. But I'll tell you what I'll do personally for you. I've 
got over fifty dollars wagered that I'll put Parker under indictment, and 
I'll cut you in on half of it if you bring in the evidence. 

— All right, Ben, if that's the best you can do, said Asa gloomily. 
— Good-by. 

He started out, but Ben held him playfully by the shoulder. — Wait 
now, Asa. I'd like twenty-five dollars from you. There's two sides to a 
wager, you know. 

— You want me to put up half of the stakes? asked Asa. 

— Got to spend money to make it, chortled Ben as Asa fumbled in his 
pocket. Ben was annoyed to see that Nick wasn't joining in the fun. 

— What have you got your back up about, Queeny? he asked. 

37 6 

— I can't see how this is going to stop the Know-Nothings, said Nick 
sourly. — We know for a fact that none of the men we want are 

Ben, in one of his lightning changes of mood, put his hand on Nick's 
arm in a fatherly way. — It doesn't matter a hoot in hell if they are or 
not. If we say they are and get a conviction, it will be just as good. 

Queeny had never been on a train before, but Asa was an experienced 
traveler and he took great pleasure in showing Nick the luxuries of the 
Worcester train. — Let's git a seat up by the stove, he said, taking Nick's 
arm — so we can spit. These rigs travel too fast to make it out of the 

After Nick had been properly impressed by the conductor's beaver 
hat, Asa offered him a chaw of his plug. — Take it before we start up. 
These cars are hitched together with a twelve-inch chain and when the 
engine starts up and the slack's took up, it's fit to drive your chaw down 
into your brisket. 

Nick declined the offer and Asa began to expand and reminisce as the 
train got under way. The stove was stocked with hard wood against the 
October chill and hissed pleasantly under his skillful expectorations. 
— You put me in mind of a preacher I once knew. He got after me for 
spittin'. . . . That Viginia juice will kill you, son, says he. Who learnt 
you that habit? . . . My granddad, says I, aged ninety-six. Well, you'll 
have to leave the Sunday school, says he. It's abomination to the Lord. 
And don't come back till you've learned a verse of the Holy Book, he 
says. Well sir, I was a smart little nipper at that, 'long about eleven years 
old, so I had a go at my dear mother's Bible and I fetched up with this. 
Never forget it, said it to him and never went near the cussed church 
again. Here it is: John 9, 6. ]esus spat on the ground, and made clay of the 
spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. 

Queeny hardly noticed what he was saying. He was fascinated by the 
flying landscape. He opened the window. He wanted to hold his hand 
out, like a child, and try to touch the trees as they flew by. But suddenly 
a tall stand of pines hurled themselves headlong at him and he ducked 
back inside the window in fright. 

Asa laughed, nearly swallowing his cud, until Queeny recovered and 
turned savagely on him with the full force of his superior intelligence. 

— We don't have to go around to every gunsmith in Worcester. If we 
get to the Free Church before the morning service is over, we can find 


out if there's a gun dealer belonging there and that will be our man. 

— And how are we going to find out who's the gun dealer? 

— We'll ask. We'll say we want to buy one. We'll say we're carrying a 
lot of money and we've been followed by some suspicious-looking fellows 
and we want some protection before we go on to our business in 

— You know that's very clever, Nick. Did that just come to you in a 

— No, I was planning it in the office while you were listening to the 
big bag of wind in there. 

— I should have kept my mouth shut, too, said Asa. — I'm out of 
pocket twenty-five dollars. 

— You'll get it back. I know we can prove the connection. These 
people are wide open. We've just got to mix with them at the meeting 
and we'll find out all we want to know. 

— You'd better go in there, Nick. There's folks there that might know 
me and make trouble. Higginson knows me, and Thomas Drew. 

— Oh, you can sit 'way at the back. It's a mongrel crowd like Parker's. 
All sorts of people come and go in there. 

— You go, Nick. 

— I can't go in there, Asa, said Nick. — You know that. 

Asa thought for a moment, then said. — It's not a regular Protestant 
church, Nick. You'll be all right. 

Nick shook his head. — No. It's worse. 

That was why Asa Butman slunk furtively into one of the back pews 
of the Worcester Free Church near the end of the sermon. 

Tom Higginson cut a handsome figure at his preaching desk. He 
possessed the two assets considered the peak of that classification by the 
ladies of the time: long legs and long hair. It was a plain little edifice 
wherein he taught, used as the Horticultural Hall in its secular life, 
without stained-glass windows and with Quakerlike architecture, and the 
sun came freely through the clear panes and touched his high head with 

People came in and out unbeset by ritualistic constrictions, as they did 
in the Music Hall, and it was some time before Tom's eyes rested on 
Asa Butman who sat in a weird crouch on the back bench. 

Tom slowly reached for the Bible, bringing his sermon to a measured 
conclusion. He turned it over to the cynical pages of Ecclesiastes. The 
congregation was puzzled at this departure from the order of the service 
and began to follow his frequent looks back to the stocky body of Asa, 

37 8 

who sat now with his head bent and covered by his hairy hands as if he 
were transported into the devoutest of prayers. 

Tom began to read meaningfully from the text, after saying that he 
was moved to add a few more words to the scripture reading for the 
benefit of latecomers. 

— Be not rash with thy mouth and let not thine heart be hasty to utter 
anything before God, for God is in heaven and thou upon earth, there- 
fore let thy words be few. 

Then Tom Drew started a whisper that the man so deep in his devo- 
tions was Asa Butman from Boston. 

— For a dream comes through the multitude of business and a fool's 
voice is \nown by multitude of words. 

By the time Higginson pronounced the benediction, every mouth 
in the church had closed with a snap and the congregation got ready to 
leave, bereft of the cheerful drone and buzz that usually comes after the 
end of Sunday worship. Butman stood quietly by an upright beam in a 
back corner but the people passed him without a word and all and 
sundry had their lips locked against him. 

Nick Queeny, hovering meanwhile in the unsanctifled and unpolluted 
region of the vestibule, had found out the name of the town's biggest gun 
merchant. It was as he thought, a member of this congregation. In fact, 
a deacon. He was pointed out to Nick, who accosted him as he left the 
church and made an engagement to buy a gun. 

A little later the transaction was made, and Asa slipped the gun 
into his back pocket. This was a signal for the deacon's son to run to 
the City Marshal with a complaint that needed immediate investiga- 

Before they had got two streets away from the shop Lovell Baker, the 
City Marshal, accosted them, searched through Asa's pockets and put 
him under arrest for carrying concealed weapons, contrary to a city 
ordinance. Nick managed to saunter away up through an alley during 
the search and left Asa to face his trials alone. 

Asa thought it was remarkable that the officer had to make so many 
twists and turns and go up and down so many streets to get him over to 
the City Hall. Every time they turned a corner, it seemed as if they were 
engulfed by people coming out of some church or other. Asa was a little 
thankful when they reached City Hall and got behind the big door. He 
demanded a hearing and offered to pay his fine at once. Lovell Baker 
shook his head in indignation and said he could not summon the police 
magistrate to examine him on the Sabbath and take the man away from 


his family on the holy day. He put Asa in the lockup in the cellar and 
closed the door with an angry slam. — First thing Monday morning, sir, 
Baker said. — We don't believe in breaking the Sabbath here. This isn't 
Boston, you know. 

The good people of Worcester had a two-point sequence for their 
Sunday afternoon stroll. The day was the best of the hoard of Indian 
summer and they made the most of it. First they walked by the City 
Jail, skirting the knots of hard-faced men standing watch over the con- 
finement of the invader from Boston, and then they went up the hill to 
Higginson's house to catch a glimpse of the hunted. 

Higginson was fully aware of his duty in this regard and lounged 
gracefully on his front stoop, waving cordially to the family groups who 
passed on the other side of the street. They bowed and waved back, 
moved to a tribute by his courage, but kept at a distance by his notoriety. 
Mary sat there with him in her rocking chair, dressed in her best black 
silk, looking down with great absorption at her embroidering hoop when 
some of the observers lingered and stared with the vulgar intensity ac- 
corded a pair of side-show freaks at Barnum's. 

Higginson sighed nervously as he caught sight of four young ladies, 
brazenly dressed in bloomers and middy blouses and carrying long oars 
like muskets across their shoulders. They were members of a female 
boating club he had organized to cruise a nearby lake. It had been 
pleasant on summer afternoons to sit as helmsman in a four-oared craft 
with no heavier piloting responsibilities than to keep steady as she goes 
across the water-lily reefs. At the same time he felt it a demonstration of 
women's foolishly despised aptitude for courage, resourcefulness, physical 
culture and ability, as keen as any man's, to pull together toward a goal. 
But they did look strange up here on the hill and their legs were either 
too thick or too thin and the Sunday promenaders were looking at them 
with churlish or ill-concealed amusement. 

— Oh Lord, said Mary, — here come the girls. I hope they're not going 
to mount guard over you with oars akimbo. 

— I don't recall ever seeing that position in any manual of arms, said 
Higginson, — but I don't doubt that if it were possible to get Butman's 
head on the end of an oar, it would be carried by Priscilla, that's the 
stocky one, with great aplomb. 

— It seems to me she needs all the aplomb she has to carry her own 
head along in such a costume, on this street, on a Sunday afternoon. 

— Now, that's not like you, Mary. You know and have always ap- 
plauded what these girls stand for. 

3 8o 

— I grant them their right to be amazons but why do they have to 
be so conspicuously amphibious ? 

— Perhaps they are awkward and out of place at the moment, but 
I'm sure that they mean no more than to perform some harmless, callow 
tribute to me. It's their way of taking a stand with us, Mary. When I 
look at them I can see only that Priscilla, who came to me two years 
ago a weak semi-invalid, scarcely able to stand erect, now has a bust and 
arms fit for a study by a sculptor. 

— Yes, said Mary acidly, — and her legs a lesson in proportion for 
Chickering the piano maker. 

Higginson was unable to dilute this acid, for the girls were now 
resolutely crossing the street in front of the house and they did indeed 
come up to the walk and stand, two on each side, with backs like ramrods 
and oars held like pikes before them. Their eyes were red-rimmed, their 
noses tipped with crimson, and when Priscilla, who had been chosen 
spokeswoman, went to speak, her chin trembled and nothing came out 
of her open mouth. 

He got up and stepped gracefully to Priscilla, resting a friendly hand 
upon her shoulder. She fairly quivered with emotion and two great tears 
trickled down her round cheeks. 

— It's nice to see you girls, he said. — Now why don't you rest on your 
oars a bit, as it were? 

With military precision the girls transferred the big oars to their right 
hands, spread their legs slightly apart and stood in the position of At Ease. 
Across the street they were being watched with great interest by the 
passers-by who expected at any moment to see them go into an elaborate 
drill and free exhibition. 

Mary looked at her embroidery hoop as if she wished it were a pool in 
which to dive to oblivion. Higginson glanced anxiously at the crowd 
beginning to collect and said, — No, girls, I mean rest your oars. Put them 
down on the grass. You must be tired from carrying them up the hill. 

Somewhat reluctantly they laid the long lengths on the lawn and then 
stood again, looking at him out of cows' eyes. — I remember now that 
this was to be our last day on the lake, wasn't it? he said. 

— Yes, said Priscilla, biting her lip. 

— I hadn't forgotten it, really, but I didn't like to leave Mrs. Higginson 
this afternoon. You're old enough to know that there is a faint shadow 
of trouble resting on this dear house and we're a little afraid it may turn 
into a thundercloud. 

Tears formed in Priscilla's eyes again. 


— Come, come, Priscilla, that's no way to cheer us up. I can see the 
cloud leaking already, right over your head. 

He turned to the others. — Now girls, no matter what happens I want 
you to go on with your gymnastics. I have arranged to get some dumb- 
bells, bean bags and Indian clubs for the church so that you can continue 
through the winter. Don't forget, you are pioneers in a great cause. You 
are leading the vanguard of one half of the entire human race. And don't 
neglect your brisk walks in the outdoors. 

One of the girls timidly raised her hand as if she were in school. 

— Yes ? asked Higginson. 

— Mr. Higginson . . • ah . . . who is going to be our teacher? 

— I will continue to, I hope, but it's possible this great slavocracy might 
have other plans. In that case, perhaps Mrs. Higginson may. 

— Oh, would you, ma'am? said the girl and all but Priscilla went 
quickly up the stairs to Mary. 

Mary stood up shakily, her face lye-white. With a trembling movement 
she laid her sewing on the chair, straightened up and looked daggers at 
her husband. 

He plunged on, — I have been telling her, when I catch her looking a 
little enviously at a pair of red cheeks, that they are merely oxygen in 
another form and she can get them where the roses get them, out of 
doors. . . . 

— You are quite incorrect, Wentworth, said Mary coldly. — Roses get 
all of their characteristics by remaining in their beds. Furthermore, I 
have been taught never to judge people by their color. Excuse me, girls. 
Thank you for calling. I have a slight headache and must retire. With that 
she walked slowly into the house. 

Higginson got rid of the girls as quickly as he could and then went 
into his parlor with a feeling of dread. Mary was sitting quietly in a 
chair with the curtains drawn, looking at nothing. He paced up and 
down a few times, kicking symbolically at the flowers on the carpet. 
— Please, Mary. Have I said anything to hurt you? 

— Of course you have, Wentworth. 

— Not intentionally, dear. You know I wouldn't . . . 

— Yes, it was intentionally. But not to hurt me: to help me, as you no 
doubt assumed. 

— What else do I ever think of, said Higginson gloomily. 

— Well, you think of me leading some women's crusade against long 


skirts, corsets and conventions from time to time, don't you? I have 
thought up to now that you were resigned to my weaknesses and 
futilities but you're not, are you? 

— I am not resigned to anything, Mary, except my own tactlessness 
and that I can never forgive. 

— I have never found you tactless before. Or rather I have never 
thought you tactless before. I know how desperately you want children 
but you have never hurt me by revealing that desperation. But now, all 
this talk about women's health, and their mission, all these bouncing 
essays in the Atlantic, the oxygen of rosy cheeks, the busts you have de- 
veloped for the edification of sculptors . . . There must be something 
behind it. Is it all a monstrous hint that I am proving a sadly inadequate 
wife to you? 

— Of course not. I have a purpose in my writing but it's a selfless one 
and has no reference to what is expected of you. 

— I don't need such hints, Wentworth. I know what's expected of me. 
After all, I am a Channing, the daughter of a progressive doctor, the 
niece of a great reformer, the sister of a radical poet and the wife of a 
revolutionary agitator. Isn't it a wonder and a pity that I, as well as Ann 
Phillips and Lydia Parker, should turn out to be such a weak and 
vaporous female? I am sure many people consider us false, even adulter- 
ous to our husbands' ideals. But don't you realize, Wentworth, that we 
are what we are in order not to conform ? Can't you see we're having our 
own little rebellion against what is expected of us? Haven't you enough 
women to make free, or mold or develop their busts or whatever you 
want to do with them? 

Higginson stared at her in amazement. He had never heard her in this 
vein before. He had scarcely heard her raise her voice above a whimper; 
and strangely enough she wasn't doing it now, but everything she said 
had the effect of having been shouted in anger, and yet there was no 
anger, or even passion apparent. Most of the plain speaking in this family 
had been done during her frequent visits by his matriarch of a mother, 
while soft little Mary had sat wide-eyed in tremulous silence, holding a 
purple vial of smelling salts in a blue-veined hand. 

Now she sat wide-eyed, her posture the same, even to the smelling 
salts, but her straight black eyebrows were raised in bold arcs, her pupils 
were like little gray coves of pond ice with air holes into the black waters 
beneath. Her mouth, with its straight, dark lavender, unmoving upper lip, 
had shaken off irresolute softness and was rolling out, over the full, 
scrolling lower lip, a text too heavy for her thin, flat soprano so that it 


broke at intervals through the long sentences and gave them the many- 
edged impact power of shattered glass. 

He could not look at her any more without the most intense embarrass- 
ment. He tried to pitch his voice softly in reply so as to match this amazing 
show of strength, but his preacher's baritone hadn't her quality of brittle 
restraint and it came through with false intonations of injured innocence 
over choked rage. 

— Mary, I don't understand you at this moment. I can only think that 
you are ill and should be put to bed. I have never urged you to join the 
Anti-slavery Society, the Woman's Rights Movement, the Temperance 
Movement or anything else that would put a tax on your delicate health. 
How can you say these things to me ? 

— You wanted me to lead those horrid girls, and in that I could see 
all the things you have kept back for years. It was so absurd of you to 
ask me to start worrying about bean bags and dumbbells. So shallow of 
you to think they would accept me for you. But then, it takes a woman to 
see beyond a schoolgirl crush. 

— I only thought it might be good for you to get away from this 
house for a while in case I am to be put away. I don't like to see you 
everlastingly tied down to three hot meals a day and a best parlor with 
a hair-cloth sofa and a photograph book. 

— I love my best parlor, Wentworth, and my photograph book. I 
pray God every morning for the strength to give my man a hot meal. 
Someday you'll realize what I am doing for you by surrounding you with 
some semblance of conventional rationality. I wouldn't for the world 
be like Lucy Stone. You know what she said to me the other day, in 
cold blood, Wentworth? She said it would be a blessing to the cause if 
you were hanged. 

— She didn't mean it, Mary. She's a great woman. And so are Abby 
Kelley and Maria Chapman. 

— Thank God I'm an ordinary woman with the foresight to get a man 
to be my greatness for me. Lydia Parker says the same. Theodore Parker 
wouldn't change his meek little wife for Catherine of Russia ... or even 
Julia Ward Howe. 

Higginson sat down and looked sadly at the crease in his trousers. 
Then he said hopelessly, — I sometimes forget how patronizing it is to 
tell people what they already know. But it's not all pedantry. I want you 
to be happy. I want you to participate in all parts of my life. I want you 
to be healthy. You have a nice body. I can't understand why it can't be 
as quick and flashing as your mind. 


— The doctor said I have a condition of the relaxing and softening 
of the muscles. I don't know what it means but I must accept it. It's not 
because I'm afraid, Wentworth, to compete with your amazons and 
feather my oars and your cap at the same time. 

Higginson buried his face in his hands. He could think of nothing else 
to say. 

Mary crossed to him and pulled his head back with one hand twined 
gently in his hair. She settled herself into his lap and waved the smelling 
salts under his nose until his eyes began to smart. He pushed her hand 
away. The vial dropped to the carpet and he kicked it out of sight into 
a corner. 

— Wentworth, King Solomon said the wisest thing ever about all 
humans . . . Vanity, vanity, all is vanity. You're a vain man, dear. It's 
perhaps your most lovable trait. Now just think of what's going to happen 
to these men who married great women. No one will remember who 
married Abby Kelley. Lucy Stone won't even carry her husband's name. 
And Dr. Howe, perhaps the world's greatest humanitarian, first teacher 
of the blind and deaf, will forever be buried behind one or two poems of 
Julia Ward Howe. 

— I love this little parlor, Mary, said Higginson, — photograph book 
and all. Do you suppose someday we could afford a small piano? 

— In that case we'll compromise, dear, and I'll come to church Sunday 
in bloomers and smoking a big, black pipe. 

The next morning, Higginson couldn't resist going down to the City 
Hall to play cat-and-mouse with the rest. The area outside the door was 
full of the yeomen of Worcester. There were heated discussions among 
them as to whether Butman had come up to secure witnesses or snare 
fugitives. Higginson tried to hold himself aloof from the controversy 
which was on the question of whether to run Asa out of town on a rail 
or to be merciful and leave him to rot in jail a spell. 

Some of the men had stayed there all night. Marshal Baker went home 
as usual but when he got back in the morning, he saw that his problem 
of the day was not how he was going to keep Asa in, but how to keep 
the crowd out. He decided to send for his lawyer, a young Free-soiler 
named Hoar, and when he came showed him at once to the cell where 
Asa was actually cowering and terror-stricken. 

George Hoar was a Concord boy much respected in town because he 


had chosen Worcester to practice law in, despite his family's great reputa- 
tion and following in Boston. 

Hoar advised him to bring Asa up and settle the charge against him 
while he went out on the steps to talk to the mob. 

Hoar's own father and sister had once figured in a famous incident in 
the South, and had been driven by a mob from South Carolina, to which 
his father had traveled years ago in order to defend some Massachusetts 
Negro seamen who were held there as slaves. 

— Let us not, he begged, — give South Carolina the right to excuse 
their own conduct by reciting the behavior of the people of Worcester. 

This set well with the crowd and a voice cried, — All right, all right, 
but Butman must promise never to set foot here again! 

Young Hoar did not think it wise to put any conditions on Butman's 
delivery, so he would not answer; but Asa, who had been compelled by 
his morbid curiosity to stick his nose through a crack in the door, shouted, 
— Yes! Yes! in such ringing tones that the crowd set up a great laugh and 
it seemed to provide enough of a lull in their high, spirits to bring the 
culprit forth. 

Tom Higginson came forward and took Asa's shrinking arm and 
George Hoar took the other and the long walk to the Boston train began. 
The station was a small wooden building a half-mile from the City Hall, 
and there were at least two thousand people swarming around the un- 
happy Asa. The free Negroes of Worcester, who had put out the leaflet 
about Asa being a slave catcher, were particularly irate. They had de- 
cided to kill him. Higginson had to fend them off with his free hand and 
could not prevent a few good kicks from being bestowed in the swaying 
and surging of the crowd, and once Asa was knocked to the ground by 
a huge blow in the back from a Negro who had a cobblestone in his 
hands. Both George Hoar and Tom had to dodge rocks and garbage 
coming from all directions, and their trial was almost as great as Asa's. 

Directly in back of Butman walked the famous Joseph Howland, a man 
who had been persecuted for years because of his long flowing beard. He 
was a Garrisonian Nonresistant, and turned around to shake his finger 
at the crowd at regular intervals and shout in his bull-like voice, — Don't 
hurt him, mean as he is. Don't kill him, mean though he may be. 

The greatest trouble the escort had came from Tom Drew. After 
nudging the Negroes and others back with reproving looks, he would 
cut loose and kick Butman heartily in the breeches. Higginson and 
Hoar exchanged somewhat disgusted looks at this levity, but Drew did 
it in such a sprightly, jaunty way that the crowd gave up some of their 

3 86 

anger to laugh and saw Asa as a ridiculous instead of a sinister figure. 
Afterwards, Higginson and George agreed that Asa was probably saved 
from a rope by those kicks in the pants. 

The train was standing in the station when they got there and the 
crowd was fairly quiet. But before they could haul Asa up onto the car 
step, the train moved away and left them stranded. 

The crowd's temper seemed to change in an instant and some of the 
Negroes said it was a sign from the Lord, that Asa was to be punished 
indeed, and they began to press heavily. George and Tom hurled Asa 
into a carriage standing nearby and Tom began to agitate the horse. But 
the owner of the rig came on the scene, held the horse's head and de- 
manded with great indignation that they get the hell out. 

There was a hack standing nearby and they hoisted Asa into it and 
Tom got the horse going and they galloped wildly through the mob. 
One window was smashed with rocks and the broken glass cut both 
George and Tom but Asa escaped unscathed. He was curled up on the 
floor under a buffalo rug. 

— Faster! Faster! shrieked Asa and Tom whipped the horse on down 
the road. Tom shouted that he was only going to drive him as far as a 
way station two or three miles out of town and put him on the Boston 
train. Asa begged him not to, saying that if they waited a half-moment at 
a station, the mob would get another train down from Worcester and 
kill him. 

Tom pretended not to hear his wild pleading and Asa got up off the 
floor and threw off the rug to make his urgings plain. Here Higginson 
took advantage of the situation and preached him a notable Abolitionist 
sermon to the clatter of the hooves. Asa's head wagged up and down in 
agreement as constant as the hoofbeats. 

But suddenly his attention was diverted by the approach of a faster 
team from the rear. It had been just this that Asa had feared the most 
and he seized the door of the hack, so frenzied that he stood ready to 
jump. Tom slowed down at this, alarmed at his wild intentions, and the 
pursuing carriage came abreast of them. 

— It's Marshal Baker, said George, recognizing him. 

— My God! shrieked Asa. — What now? What the hell does he want 
now? He dove for the buffalo robe again. 

— I thought you were going to put him on the train? Lovell Baker 
said. — You're not going to drive him all the way to Boston, are you? 

Butman got up again and staggered out of the hack into the road. — I'm 
not going to get on any train, he said. — I'd rather walk. 


Baker shrugged and went back to his carriage. 

— You drive me, Marshal, Butman pleaded, pulling him by the sleeve. 
— You owe me safe-conduct to Boston. I've paid my fine. 

— Well, said Baker. — I suppose it would be a gesture of professional 
courtesy, but it's hard for me to admit that I'm in the same business as a 
miserable critter like you. 

Butman, scrambling into the Marshal's carriage, took up the whip and 
fetched the horses a great lick across their sweating rumps, and they 
were off again. 

Higginson watched them gallop away with great elation. He was 
tempted to follow them into Boston and be the first to tell Theodore 
Parker that he was wrong about the Worcester men: they did have bold- 
ness and unity. They could drive of? kidnapers, storm courthouses, and 
they should not share the blame for the fiasco at Faneuil Hall. 

3 88 




/ have trodden the winepress alone; 

And of the people there was none with me: 

For I will tread them in mine anger, 

And trample them in my fury; 

And their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, 

And I will stain all my raiment. 

For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, 

And the year of my redeemed is come. 

On the day before Thanksgiving, a little after eight in the morning, 
Parker heard a rap on his door. He answered it and admitted a sheepish- 
looking man who gave no muscular response whatsoever to his handclasp. 

— Are you Mr. Theodore Parker? 

— Yes, Parker said, mystified by the man's solemnity. 

— I've come to speak to you on business. 

— Then come upstairs to my study. Parker led him to the third floor 
and told him to take a seat. The man remained standing, however, and 
seemed acutely uncomfortable. 

— Mr. Parker, I have some very disagreeable business to do. I've come 
to arrest you, he blurted. 

— Is that all? Parker said. — Sit down, sit down. I won't jump out of 
the window. 

The man sat awkwardly and looked steadily at his hat. He didn't seem 
to know just what to say next. 

— In the United States Circuit Court, I suppose? 

— Yes, sir. 

— Have you got the warrant with you? 

— Yes, sir. 


— Let me have a look at it, Parker said and the man handed it over 
to him. 

Parker read it over quickly, half aloud to get the weight of its legalism, 
and then handed it back. — Well, what do you want me to do? he asked. 
— Shall I go down to the Courthouse? 

— No. But if you'd go down to the Marshal's office at ten o'clock . . . 

— Certainly. Where is it? 

— On the first floor. 

Parker smiled. — Oh yes, to the right of the side door. I remember it 
very well now that you speak of it. 

The man didn't know what he was driving at but he nodded and then 
said hopefully, — I suppose you'll have bail, sir. 

— Oh yes, I have four or five people interested in providing surety. 

— One will be enough, sir. If he is a real-estate holder. 

— Yes, I know. But this is a great occasion, officer, and several persons 
have asked the privilege of being my bail. We expected this, you know. 

— Very well, said the man, smiling unhappily. 

Parker took him by the arm and conducted him politely down the 

— This is a disagreeable business, Mr. Parker. 

— I have no doubt of it. I had expected Asa Butman to perform this 
ceremony, but I am, nevertheless, much obliged to you for the pleasant 
gentlemanly way in which you have performed your duty. 

— Oh, thank you. I'm a special constable, sir. I never serve warrants in 
low places. 

— Thanks for the compliment and good morning to you, Special Con- 
stable. Tell Watson I shall see him on the tick of ten. 

Lydia was appalled by the lightness and levity with which he announced 
the event. She went out rather tearfully to get Mr. Manley, Mr. May and 
the other bondsmen to come to the Courthouse at the required time. 

Parker dropped in with elaborate casualness on Charles Ellis at the Old 
State House and then went in due time to the Marshal's office. 

Watson Freeman wasn't there. Parker was told to report to the Circuit 
Courtroom upstairs. 

The room was empty except for a clerk and the Marshal and the two 
judges, Curtis and Peleg Sprague, on the bench. Parker walked in with a 
bit of a swagger. Ellis told him to sit off to one side while he went over to 
the judges. Parker could not hear what they were saying. It struck him as 
a moment completely unlike the one he had pictured for the occasion. 

Finally old Judge Sprague spoke out to the clerk. 


— I set bail at fifteen hundred dollars for appearance before this court at 
ten a.m. the first Monday in March, on the charge of riot. 

After a few more minutes of whispering Charles Ellis came back to 

— Can I go now ? asked Parker in a loud voice. — What on earth was 
all that whispering about? I thought you were selling me out up there. 

— Sh, cautioned Ellis. 

— The date for the trial is perfect, said Parker heartily. — The anni- 
versary of the Boston Massacre. 

Ellis steered him hastily through the courtroom door. 
Judge Sprague banged his gavel. — Court adjourned, he said. 
The clerk and Watson left. The courtroom was quiet. Judge Sprague 
got up and stretched. 

— I suppose we'll have to put a new date for the trial. 

— No, said Justice Curtis gloomily. — I refuse to be afraid of the man. 

— I know how you feel, said Judge Sprague, — but he'll make game 
of it. 

— Would you mind staying here a moment or two, Peleg? asked Curtis. 
— I have something I want to discuss with you. 

— No, no. I'm in no hurry. I expected you to open a bottle of wine over 
this indictment. You Ve worked hard enough on it. 

Judge Sprague sat again. Curtis got up and walked oflf the platform and 
stepped to the front of the bench. He laid his hand on the bench and looked 
up at the old judge. 

— This is no occasion for rejoicing, I'm afraid, said Curtis in a subdued 
tone. — I think our troubles are just beginning with that man. You know, 
Peleg, I've always thought that it was a mistake to have Supreme Court 
justices sit on Circuit. Now this is your courtroom, actually, and yet I have 
to sit up there with you and share the responsibility. 

— Share it, hell, said Sprague. — You outrank me. 

— That is why I think there should be three of us so that there could 
be a majority decision on all points. 

— Get to it, Justice, what's on your mind? said Sprague dryly. 

— I think there should be complete unanimity between us on the con- 
duct of the trial. We must preserve clear agreement at all times. 

— What on earth is there to disagree about? We've both sat on hundreds 
of trials. The law is the law. A lawyer is a lawyer. 

— But Parker is Parker, and I've just heard that he's going to present his 
own summary to the jury. You know, of course, what that means; we must 
prepare to listen to a torrent of personal abuse of a magistrate from a man 


who stands indicted in the Court over which that magistrate presides. He 
will use every coarse trick in his repertoire to force the jury to applaud a 
man who openly avows himself to be devoted to the destruction of his 

— Not in my court he won't, said Judge Sprague. His mouth was 
pursed; he had no teeth to set his jaw with. — I'll cite him for contempt in 
jig time. And he'll get more than a year out of it. 

— No, no. That's the last thing in the world we must do. He wants us to 
meet him head-on in just that way so he can cry persecution and prejudice 
and turn the thing into grand farce. 

— Now don't ask me to sit here and take water from him. I know what 
to expect. He's already told everybody that I crawled for my office and 
jump whenever they crack the whip in Washington. I won't take his lip, 
damned if I will. I'll commit him before the jury sees the whites of his 

— Then the case will be lost, like the Shadrach case. 

Judge Sprague glared down at his colleague. — Are you hinting sir, that 
my conduct was wrong during the Shadrach case ? 

— I'm afraid it was, sir. You were most intemperate. You flew at the de- 
fendants and berated them unmercifully. You were overvehement, sir. 
Juries resent it from a judge. You must be calm. A trial must not look po- 
litical, even if it is. 

Old Judge Sprague sat violently back in his chair. He had two long 
hanks of yellow-white hair running from his temple to a thick projecting 
•curl back of each ear. In repose, they looked like ram's horns and he like 
the bellwether of the flock. But in his anger, his earlocks broke away and 
hung down over his ears like a witch's. 

— I may be vehement in the discharge of my sworn duties, Mr. Justice 
Curtis, he said in a trembling voice. — But I have never had the temerity 
to get my own brother-in-law on the grand jury, as you with Willy Green- 
ough, so as to avenge an insult to my family. 

The two judges stared angrily at one another. Finally Curtis spoke in the 
most conciliating tone he could muster. 

— I'm sorry to have offended you, Judge Sprague, but perhaps this is the 
best way possible to demonstrate how this man can set not only us but the 
-entire country at sixes and sevens. Believe me, this is not a grudge fight 
with me. I have a higher purpose behind it all, one which would excuse 
any amount of relatives on grand juries. I know enough of the geology of 
this state to find where the hardpan lies; and if we do not get to it, and 
make use of men like Greenough and others of our own class, this coun- 


try will never get out of the mud. I intend, through the evidence and con- 
duct of this trial, to establish that any combined and forcible attempt to> 
resist the execution of a Federal law is treason. I think this signification 
will dissolve more factions and put down more fanatics than all the troops 
in the forts and all the Navy Yards at our command. 

Judge Sprague deliberately pushed his hair back of his huge red ears and 
stood for a moment looking in disgust at his colleague. Finally he said: 
— The Constitution of the United States says treason shall consist only of 
levying war against them. 

— That phrase is obsolete and was merely put in because of the condition 
of the country at the time the document was written. 

Judge Sprague stepped down from the platform and began to walk to* 
his chambers. Curtis saw that he was still deeply resentful and offended. 
Sprague turned at the door. — I think the people are the ones to settle that 
question, Mr. Justice Curtis. It's their document. 

— They won't have it much longer if they continue listening without 
indignation to the grossest charges against those who administer the judi- 
cial power. 

Judge Sprague stepped through the door without answering. Curtis- 
tagged after him, feeling sorry for himself. He got the old man's coat and 
held it for him. — Don't let this incident ruin our long friendship, I beg of 
you. I can't tell you how upset I am about this trial. If I could find some 
honorable retreat from my post, I would take it. What shall I do, Peleg? 
What shall I do? 

— If that's the way you feel about it, I see only one course open for you, 
said Peleg. 

— And what is that, dear friend? 

— Plead guilty and throw yourself on the mercy of the defendant. 

It was unseasonably warm that December and the sun streamed in a 
flood through the broad windows of the in-town office of Dr. Howe on 
Bromfield Street. The doctor had suggested that Phillips and Higginson,. 
arraigned that morning as Parker was a week before, meet him there, in- 
stead of in the public glare of a lawyer's office, to discuss a common defense. 
He had asked Parker to come a little before the others. He had some- 
thing very bitter and embarrassing to have out with him. He heard a run- 
ning, heavy step on the stairs and knew at once who it was. Parker burst 
in, his overcoat swinging open from his shoulders and his slouch hat, 
which he stubbornly clung to while the rest of the men of his class wore 


stovepipes, was tilted far back on his bald head. Under his arm he had a 
mass of manuscripts, four inches thick and tied up with a piece of rope. 
With a sign of relief, he plumped it onto the doctor's desk. 

— What on earth is all that ? asked the doctor. 

— That's my brief. I've been working on it since last summer. 

The doctor turned back one or two pages. — I can't even read it. Hadn't 
you better have someone copy it out for you? 

— I'm going to have it printed up. I'm going to drop it off today and get 
an early start. Jock Metcalf, Mussey's head printer, is always making me 
recopy a page here and there. This is the only way I can keep ahead of him. 
He says he should get double pay. 

— Sit down. I've got something very awkward to discuss with you. 
Parker flung himself down on one of two horsehair sofas that stood at 

right angles to the desk. He rubbed his buttocks gingerly. — When are you 
going to get rid of these implements of torture, Chev ? A hair shirt operates 
on a less vulnerable area and has the added charm of making saints out of 
its wearers. 

— There's a hair shirt being cut out for you that you'll be wearing soon 
enough, I'm afraid. Did you know that there is a rumor around that you 
had an agreement in writing with Higginson to back him up at the Court- 
house that night and that you deliberately let him down ? 

— I've heard a little about it. John Swift started it. It's mostly around 
Worcester way. 

— Then we must put a stop to it before it gets any further, said the doc- 
tor indignantly. — This is no light matter. Now don't you think you 
should give some sort of explanation to Higginson and have him issue a 
letter or something denying it? 

— What ? Young Tom Higginson ? Do you think I owe him an explana- 
tion? That would be only pouring oil on the fire. Besides Tom will deny it 
anyway. He knows it isn't true. 

Dr. Howe got up from his desk and went to where Parker was half re- 
clining. He put his hands on his hips and thrust out the point of his beard. 
— Higginson himself is pouring oil on the fire. He's telling everyone that 
the attack could have been successful if the speakers at the Hall had been 
on their toes. 

— That's ridiculous, Parker said, trying to hold down an excitement that 
was beginning to grip him. — The passageways were full of armed men, 
Tom and the others would have been shot like fish in a barrel. 

— Then have it out with him and stop this rumor-mongering. 

— I admit I owe an explanation to Wendell. I let him go on talking 


down the excitement, pouring abuse on the volunteers and all in ignorance 
of what he was doing. If I had only caught him by the sleeve and stopped 

— I should have. I knew about the plan being changed. 

Parker shook his head sadly. — No, it was my responsibility. He's being 
attacked in the rumor too, Chev. It's truly my hair shirt. I've been wearing 
it since that night. I don't know whatever possessed me. I've made all sorts 
of explanations to myself. My absentmindedness, the fact that before I 
make a speech I scarcely hear what anyone says around me. But it all adds 
up to the same thing. I must have been afraid. 

— You were sick, you were sick, said the doctor, sitting impulsively on 
the sofa. — Let me tell Tom that and make it known. 

— No, no, said Parker getting up. — Don't start that around. I would 
rather be thought a coward once than a sick man unable to do his job from 
now on. Let it stand the way it is. 

He went to the desk and banged his fist on the manuscript. — I'll make 
it up to them another way. This will return good for evil. 

— Just let a few people in Worcester know about it. 

— They wouldn't believe it. I read a resolution for the removal of Judge 
Loring at the Founding Convention of the Republican Party in Worcester 
over three months ago. People said I never looked better in my life. 

Dr. Howe got up and went back to his desk. He looked at Parker and 
sighed at the two tell-tale spots of fiery color on his cheekbones. — You do 
look better than Judge Loring, he said. — I saw him the other day and he 
told me he had lost all interest in life. Said as much as that but for the 
children he would be glad to slip away. See what you've done with your 
petitions against him. 

— And who wrote to me and asked me to start the petition, Doctor? But 
if you insist, I'm willing to forgive him and not go before the legislature 
and ask for his removal. If that is how he is talking he's dead already. He's 
dead to this case anyway. Justice Curtis is the Slave Judge now. 

— No, no, Loring must go. I have talked with him and he has written 
me a letter. He is not sorry for what he has done. He is hard and heartless. 
He has not repented in the least. 

There were some more steps coming up the stairs; two were grave, one 
was gay. Tom Higginson came first into the room. He was attired in a 
new gray coat with a military cut to it, half-capes on the back and pinch- 
waisted. On his head was a fur-trimmed cap of gray to match. He looked 
most unclerical in appearance. Wendell Phillips and Charles Ellis followed 
behind him. Tom went at once to Parker and shook him effusively by the 


hand. Dr. Howe watched him out of the corner of his eye. He saw Parker 
drop his eyes a bit, but Tom smiled gaily and began to prattle about his 
appearance before the court. — I almost laughed in Justice Curtis's face. 
While I stood before him to hear about my indictment, my pockets were 
bursting with petitions to have his brother-in-law removed from the bench. 

He unbuttoned his coat and pulled out a sheaf of petitions and laid them 
on the desk. — There's over three thousand signatures on these, Mr. 
Parker. Every one of them from Worcester and its environs. And a lot of 
them came from that magnificent presentation you gave before the Repub- 
lican Convention. Although I must say I think I did better the time I drove 
Asa Butman away from the riot in the hack. I'd have given anything to 
have you concealed somewhere behind the cushions to hear the Abolition 
sermon I preached on that occasion. 

He threw back his coat and looked around for laughs. 

— Poor Asa had a rough time in Worcester, didn't he? said Phillips. 

— That he did, and I for one am very happy about it. That seems to 
prove that the spirit of Worcester was not to blame for the failure at the 

Dr. Howe saw Parker wince. Higginson looked at Parker's manuscript 
on the desk. — What's this? Have you started your book at last, Mr. 
Parker ? I can recognize your penmanship at once, but it will take a little 
longer to guess at the text. 

— You should be willing to break any shell to get at such meat, said 

— That egg will hatch out a chick to swallow the worm of dogma and 
destroy it forever, said Tom archly. — We've been waiting a long time for 
this. He picked it up and began to study it. 

Parker gently took it away from him. — It's not a book, Tom. 

— Surely it's not a speech! Hasn't Mr. Phillips taught you yet that the 
smallest bit of paper in view is fatal to the audience? He's got me so I 
don't dare write a line. 

Charles Ellis cleared his throat. Howe motioned for them to sit down, 
and Ellis took up his position behind the desk and began to study some 
notes. He began to speak presently about the conduct of the case. He ex- 
plained that the indictments handed down in the District Court had been 
dropped and that the trial had been transferred to the Circuit Court be- 
cause it had been impossible to get a lower court to hand down an indict- 
ment connecting the Faneuil Hall meeting with the rioters. He also noted 
dryly that George Sanger had been made a judge and he would have sat 
on a case he himself had prepared as a prosecutor. 


— I'm awfully glad to hear George got kicked upstairs, said Higginson. 
— He was most courteous to me when I was arraigned last July. He in- 
sisted nothing should prevent my getting home in time for my sermon. Al- 
though I must admit it wasn't very pleasant for Martin Stowell to be 
locked up for murder all that time, in the heat and all. But that's all over 
and past. You knew, of course, that Richard Dana came with me to the 
Court so as to prevent me from making any damaging statements ? Wasn't 
that nice of him ? 

— That's all over and past, growled Parker. 

— Pardon me, said Higginson. — Isn't Dana going to be one of our 
lawyers? I would have tried to engage him myself but I thought he was 
already spoken for. 

— Dana, said Wendell Phillips, — has turned his back on us. He is now 
preparing to defend Judge Loring before the Legislature. 

— Judge Loring hired Dana? asked Higginson, wide-eyed. 

— Oh no, said Phillips. — He's volunteered. He's worried now about 
the sanctity of the courts. He's going to give me the lie. 

Higginson looked extremely chapfallen. — But that is incredible, I can't 
believe it. Why doesn't somebody go and talk with him? 

— I talked to him years ago, said Parker. — He's a conservative. He told 
me Garrison was a socialist and infidel. We expected this. 

Higginson subsided into a puzzled silence. Ellis went on with the discus- 
sion. He said that the other men who were indicted, Proudman, Morri- 
son, Cluer and Stowell, were supplied with legal aid at no expense, but that 
it was imperative that there should be no public contact between the two 
groups so that the government would have as much trouble as possible 
proving connection. He named off the lawyers: — William L. Burt, John 
A. Andrew and H. F. Durant. And myself and Congressman Hale, for 
Mr. Parker. 

— I don't understand this, said Higginson. — Mr. Parker is having 
two, and the remaining six defendants have only three lawyers between 

— The reason for that, said Ellis, — is that Parker is going to present his 
own defense and needs twice as many lawyers than anyone else to save his 

Everyone laughed at this, including Parker. Ellis gave the manuscript 
on the desk a flip. — Here it is. 

Parker got up and stood for a moment at the desk. He fingered the 
papers and then said, — This isn't my defense exactly, it's just a few chalk 
lines I've laid out to aid us all. I've divided it roughly into three sections. 


One is the encroachment of a power hostile to democratic institutions. This 
develops the argument that slavery is the plaintiff in the case and freedom 
the defendant. The second is on the corruption of the judiciary by political 
power. We can run that back to the Stuart times in England. The third is 
on the great safeguard of democracy and the rights of man, trial by jury. 
Now if you want to divide this up between us, you could take the first, 
Tom, Wendell the history of the judiciary, and I the last . . . 

He paused a moment, looking at them questioningly. There was a very 
awkward silence lying upon his colleagues. — I'm having it printed, Tom, 
so you don't have to worry about my bad penmanship. 

— We're not going to be there, blurted Tom. — We're not going to be 
at the trial. 

Parker shook his head as if he had been smacked in the face. — Not 
going to be there ? But you've got to be there. You're a defendant. What 
about that? he asked Charles Ellis. 

— They don't have to attend the trial if they don't want to, after they 
plead to the indictment, said Ellis. — The bail covers them. 

Parker stretched his hands wide in wonder. — But I thought that was 
the whole idea here. That we were going to turn defeat into victory by 
using the jury as a forum for our ideas. 

— We've discussed it thoroughly, said Tom gingerly, — and we decided, 
that is the majority decided, that it would be more striking to ignore the 
action of the court and stay away. Boycott it. In the words of Tacitus, prae- 
fulgebant eo ipso quod non videbantur. 

He gave an embarrassed laugh. — I rather like Emerson's translation of 
that phrase. It does it in one word less than the original: They glared 
through their absences. 

Parker turned suddenly to Phillips. — Do you agree to this, Wendell? 

Phillips shrugged. — It's a slave court, Theodore. I hate to be pilloried 
before it. On all legal points involved the Supreme Court has upheld the 
position taken by Curtis and company. In fact, their position sustains my 
own claim that the laws of this country are pro-slavery. I have said I want 
to withdraw from a pro-slavery union. Should I go before this court and 
plead with them to break their own laws ? 

— What about that, Charles, said Parker sharply to the lawyer. 

— I disagree, said Ellis. — I don't think it will function as a slave court. 
They have already avoided the charge for that pretext. They have made no 
mention of the rescue or of the attempt to rescue under the bill, the Fugi- 
tive Slave Bill. 

— Then it is irrelevant altogether, said Tom. 


— Oh, I wouldn't call a year in jail and a thousand-dollar fine irrelevant, 
Mr. Higginson, said Ellis mildly. 

Parker swung violently toward Tom. — Do you think it's irrelevant that 
we are about to go to war for Cuba and Haiti to make them new slave 
states, that the slave trade is to be re-established in this country ? You can't 
see what putting us out of the way and frightening and discrediting our 
friends would have to do with the condition of the country ? 

Phillips went to Parker's side and laid a cautioning hand on his shoul- 
der. Parker looked up at him in sorrow. The lawyer fiddled a bit with 
Parker's papers. 

— There are many important questions here, said Ellis. — The grand 
jury was constructed illegally from a fraction of the district and by the 
Marshal, the party concerned. The Judge's brother-in-law, William Green- 
ough, sat on it, unchallenged. The District Attorney was allowed to give 
the law to the jury. This is extremely dangerous. It allows the prosecution 
to originate the bill and bend the law to meet the facts in its possession. 
Tyrants want no more. 

— Thank you, Charles, said Parker. — I have one friend here. 

— Don't say that, I beg of you, said Phillips. — It is you I thought of 
most when I came to this decision. What is going to happen to you, Theo- 
dore, if this war of attrition goes on? You are already getting worn out, 
you haven't stopped since the thing began. There are other things for you 
to do of more importance. There have been three secret hearings before 
grand juries thus far and every one of them has been for the purpose of 
involving you, with me thrown in for a makeweight. How much more of 
this can you stand and go on with your work ? 

— Let them wear me down. What else am I for ? said Parker. 

— Not for this, Mr. Parker, I beg of you, said Higginson. — You would 
have thought differently if you had seen some of the old saints in Worcester 
before the court when they were arrested after the Butman affair. When 
the clerk read the charge one of them said : The man who wrote that is a 
liar. . . . And when the judge asked him to respect the court he answered, 
This is a slave court. I have withdrawn from it and call on everyone here 
to join me in forming a free Northern Republic. . . . Now what do you 
think of that kind of defense. 

— I think it is ludicrous, said Parker. — Fm not an eccentric or a saint. 
I have no respect for the judges, but I respect the court and the reason be- 
hind it. I respect a jury. It is the essence of the country and I will take my 
chances with them as long as I can speak. 

Higginson was upset and angry over Parker's attitude. The remark 


about the ludicrousness of his Worcester friends was hard for him to bear. 
He had an impulse to hit back. — I'm not going to waste any more time 
on this case. The best moment has gone by long since. If we have such 
faith in a body of men, why weren't they sent to the Courthouse that Fri- 
day night so that we could stand up and defend a victory instead of a mis- 
erable fiasco and one agonizing anticlimax after another? 

— That wasn't a body of men at Faneuil Hall, answered Parker. — That 
was a disorganized rabble. 

— And so will we be, snapped Higginson, — if we don't act together. 
If the men who were in jail ten days on the charge of murder say they 
will turn their back on this court, then what business have we to worry 
about our Constitutional rights? 

Parker began to cough, cough, cough. He held his handkerchief to his 
lips in one shaking hand and pounded the desk with the other. 

— I'm not worried about my Constitutional rights. But I will be heard. 
I'll prove that Curtis's posturing, pious lies about respect for the law and 
our duty toward the country bears the same relation to democracy that 
litany-repeating bears to religion. 

He picked up the defense and threw it down with a slap. — I will con- 
fess more than the government can prove. 

He crossed, still hacking, to the window and threw it open. He leaned 
out, gasping in the edged, bright air. The room was silent behind him. 
There was a tiny rustle as Ellis picked up his papers. The doctor gave a 
groan and shook his head. 

Parker took a huge breath that seemed to rush down his throat like a 
swab into a cannon. He closed his mouth, drowning the cough in the sluice- 
way of air by sheer will power. When he turned around, he had a crooked 
smile on his lips. — Look at Chev, he said, pointing a finger at the sad ex- 
pression on the doctor. — He's sore because he wasn't indicted. 

— No, no, cried the doctor. — I'm worried about you. You're sick, sick. 
You must do as they say. You must rest. 

Parker straightened up and he thrust his bull neck forward. — Nonsense, 
Doctor. I will weather the cape. I will work as long as I can stand up and 
hang onto a desk. As long as I stand up, I'm all right. If I lean a little, I go 
plumb down. If I die it will be a judgment of nature, not a sin of the will. 

— Will be damned, said Howe. — I'm a doctor. Don't talk to me about 
your will. I've heard your cough. 

— I've talked to another doctor. He says I must get out into the air. He 
isn't going to dose me with drugs and shut me up with Lydia's petticoat 
swaddling me. He says preaching will do me good, not harm. Not a blind 


doctor, not an idiot doctor, but a lung doctor; and he will make me well. 

The doctor smiled, almost hysterically. — Good God, what a terrible 
Turk you would have become if your dear mother had not given you a 
push toward the cross! It must have been a mighty push to get you this 
far along the uphill road. There are things in your character that I wish I 
were big enough and strong enough to hold a cautery to, until I burned 
them out or burned my own hand off. 

Parker made a lunge for the doctor, stooped and seized him around the 
hips and threw him onto his shoulder. He did it swiftly and with a tre- 
mendous flexing and stiffening of his mighty legs. He began to whirl him 
around. Higginson and the others were dumbfounded. 

— Look, Tom, he panted. — Let the saints in Worcester keep good 
bodies. I could hold a barrel of cider once like this instead of an empty bar- 
rel of a doctor. 

He set the doctor down and thumped himself on the chest. He picked 
up his hat and manuscript and started for the door. — So long, gentlemen. 
We agree to disagree. And I must take this off to the printer. 

He rattled down the stairs. The others stood silently. The doctor came to 
with a start. — His coat, he's forgotten his coat! . . . He ran to the open 
window and shouted at Parker, who was walking rapidly down the street. 
The others could hear a careless reply. The doctor came back to his desk. 
— He says to give it to someone at the Institute. 

Higginson lifted the coat off his arm. — I'd give anything to have it, he 
said. I'll give you the price of a new one for it. 

— No, said the doctor, rudely pulling it back. — It'll never fit you. 





My spirit is consumed, my days are extinct, 

The grave is ready for me. 

Surely there are moc\ers with me, 

And mine eye abideth in their provocation. 

Give now a pledge, be surety for me with thyself; 

Who is there that will strike hands with me? 

David Mc Daniel, the master of the plantation Rocky Mount in the state 
of North Carolina, was a fiery, hot-tempered, swearing man. He would 
often thump tables and fence posts with his fists and use the foulest of 
words, but he never beat his slaves or horses. 

He liked to bustle over to people and curse them and harass them. But 
if they stood up to him and cussed him back, he laughed and shook them 
by the hand. He liked living in the South and prospered there. He held his 
wife in disrespect, had a huge harem of black girls and sold off their com- 
mon progeny without compunction and in fact with zest, often boasting to 
the buyers of the good McDaniel blood in them. 

His mules and horses were good and much sought after. He kept his 
Negroes working in his cotton fields while waiting for a purchaser and 
they were well fed and housed and in good shape at all times. He had no 
barracoon on the farm, and when his stock got low went out at once and 
replenished it, spending as much as twenty thousand dollars in a day of 
trading without batting an eye. 

Tony was favored by him above the rest. He tended the best horses in 
the stable and did not have to bother with the work horses and mules. He 
slept in the overseer's office and ate at the house with McDaniel himself. 
His master ran a store at the crossroads and Tony had credit there and was 
allowed to go in and get anything he wanted within reason. He was not 


held accountable to any of the overseers and once when one of them tried 
to rough him up a bit he told McDaniel and saw the overseer tongue- 
lashed in his presence. 

If Tony was submissive, it was an honest submissiveness put upon him 
by the law of his church and country. He was doing what was right accord- 
ing to the logic and ethics of his position. Freedom was a word that had 
brought him nothing but anguish. He had seen his brethren up North cold 
and hungry, reduced to petty pilfering and sentenced to jail for an act that 
would be taken for granted by a plantation owner. A slave had a license to 
steal. They raised the food. They had the right to any of it that was loose. 
They had a right to anything in the barnyard that was loose. They thought 
it was the Lord's blessing that put such things in their way. He remem- 
bered the old Negro women, homeless and begging, in the streets of Rich- 
mond. They were free. No one owned them, and no one took care of them 

One day McDaniel came to him and said, — I've got an offer for you 
from the North. 

Tony looked at him without joy in his face. McDaniel laughed. 

— Changed your tune a little since you been up there, haven't you? 
Well, I don't blame you. It's no easy life up there. There's lots of free 
niggers come back into these parts again. They can't make a livin' up there. 
No more'n the Irish. I hired a crew of Paddies to drain my back swamp; 
pay them a hundred dollars for the whole job long as it will take. I don't 
dare to put slaves down there and risk them getting sick and dying at a 
thousand dollars a head. You can get more'n the Paddies do workin' in the 
tobacco factories, and have someone to own you in your old age. 

McDaniel pulled a crumpled letter out of his pocket and looked at it. 

— They're offering thirteen hundred for you. You're worth fifteen to me. 
He threw the letter on the ground. Tony made a grab for it, but 

McDaniel put his foot on it. — What do you want it for? 

— It's from Mr. Grimes, said Tony gently. 

— No, it ain't neither, said McDaniel. — It's a man named Stockwell. 
He picked up the letter and showed it to Tony. 

— You've got to do it, Mr. McDaniel, said Tony. — I want to go. 

— What for ? There's nothing up there for you. You found that out. You 
want a woman ? Take your pick. You can make brothers to my own nigger 
sons if you want to. 

— I want to be sold up North. If you don't sell me, I'll try to escape. I 
gave you my word I wouldn't, but now I've got to take it back. 

— But why ? Can you give me a reason why ? 


— It's Mr. Grimes, blurted Tony. 

— It's not Mr. Grimes, you God-damned ape. The man's name is Stock- 
well. He never even heard about you. Wants some cheap help, maybe to 
get back at the Irish. Probably a Know-Nothing. Hell's breeches, you're a 
know-nothing yourself. You don't know why you want to leave! 

Faith in man, faith in man, Tony should have said; but he couldn't put 
his finger on it just yet, and so he said nothing and McDaniel stamped of! 
in a temper, shoving the letter back into his pocket and saying that he 
wasn't going to discuss the thing again. 

The sun of late February put brightness on the snow and made the chim- 
ney shadows the deepest of purple on the roofs where the crust stayed firm. 
Parker bounded downstairs one morning early, thrust his head out of the 
front door for a big breath and heaved clouds of steamy vapor in and out 
like a spurting kettle. He went into the dining room for breakfast, lifted 
the lid ofif the plate at his place and said, — What's this? 

— It's lovely hot porridge, dear, said Lydia. 

He clanked the lid down on it with distaste. — Why do men eat bread 
and meat? he demanded. 

— 'Cause they're hungry, answered Hannah Stevenson. 

— Good, good, dear old lady. I see you know all your catechism this 
morning. Next lesson. Why did the Lord make the world? Answer: No- 
body else could. Wa'n't none ready so he done it. 

He paused for a laugh. Miss Stevenson's face was glum. — Lydia, he 
Called. She had gone hurriedly into the kitchen. 

— Leave her be, said Hannah. — She's gone in for a cry. 

— My Bear crying? No. What's she crying about? 

— Because you're going away. 

— But I always go out to lecture around this time. Hasn't she got used 
to it yet ? 

— She thinks you're too sick to go. 

Parker stifled a flick of indignation. Lydia was always worried about 
him doing this and doing that. That's why he called her Bear. She was so 
very, very, unbearlike. So unburly, so high and thin of voice, so pale of 
color, so unable to give a great big squeeze. It was the only bad thing he 
ever said to her and she didn't attach a great deal of importance to it. After 
all, he loved bears. He had all kinds of carved china, crockery, paper and 
glass bears all over the house. Everybody that wanted to bring him a gift 
brought a bear. They didn't dare pick out a book for him. Once he had 


routed Professor Agassiz out of his bed at three in the morning to ask if 
bears mated for life or only from season to season. 

He picked up the bowl of porridge and went to the kitchen door. — Do 
I have to eat this puppy food, Bear? he asked. — I'm a big dog now, a 
regular genuine shepherd, going to tend my flocks on distant hills. Can't I 
have a big bone with a lot of meat around it? 

— You said the other day you were a poodle, she said, wiping away her 

— And so I was, a poodle dog to lie on the sofa all day at my lady's feet, 
with sweaters and shawls and a bear's petticoat swabbed around me. 

— The doctor said . . . 

— Oh, no, my dear, he interrupted and gave her a hearty smack on the 
lips. — Get out, doctor said, breathe the fresh air, circle the country round, 
best thing in the world. Honest, Lydia. That's what he said. 

— Which one said that? Not Dr. Howe. He wants you to rest. 

— The one the great Navigator left behind to point the way. It's time for 
the gold rush, you know. Fifty dollars a night for saying the same things 
in Utica and Waukegan that I'm going to get punished for in Boston. 
Think of that, Bearsie. What a precious town we live in. Old Parker has to 
travel and loot twenty cities to pay the tribute for one night's oration in 
Boston. It'll be forty by the time I'm through. 

— What's the other thousand for, more books? Lydia said with wifely 

— No more books. Don't need books for the war. Need cannon balls. 
That's what I'm buying now. How'd you like a cellarful of cannon balls? 

— They'd be easier to dust, I guess, she said, going to the food cupboard. 
— Shall I make some ham and eggs ? 

— Can't I have a steak, dear? And some bread. Lots of bread. Don't 
bother with potatoes at all. Now I'm going in and chivy Hannah for a bit. 

He strutted into the dining room again, bouncing up and down on his 
toes in the way that always aroused Miss Stevenson's spinsterish fury at 
man's colossal conceit. Humming, half-singing, dissonantly and with the 
greatest happiness . . . Despis-ed, reject-ed ... he took from a corner a 
large-sized railroad map of the country and began to hang it over the side- 
board. She looked at him with a jaundiced eye. 

— What on earth is that for? she asked. 

— It's a railroad map, Han, showing my ports of entry, my ports of call. 
Sent to me by my booking agent. Miss Charlotte Cushman is the only 
other person in Boston that has one. I'm going to follow her into Buffalo. 
Oh wait, you haven't seen my new coat. 


He rushed into the closet and brought out a heavy, buffalo-lined coat 
with an astrakhan collar. 

— Look, Hannah. Just like an actor. Don't I look like one? Don't write 
me any letters with Reverend on them. And look at the hat. 

After slipping on the coat he held up a round Cossack hat of black 
astrakhan. He patted and fluffed the fur with his hand and set it happily 
on his head. — Look, Hannah. Isn't it beautiful? 

He put his hand on it. — I feel as if I had hair again: thick, black, curly 

— Again ? she said sourly. — You never did have thick, black, curly hair. 

— I wasn't an actor before. Now if Miss Cushman's leading man takes 
sick and she needs a Romeo or a Hamlet or a Macbeth, I can jump right in 
without even having to remove my hat. 

— I believe that's back of this whole trip, said Hannah. — I can't see any 
other reason for traipsing around the country in this weather. 

— Weather, Miss Hannah? Why, it's nearly March! Spring's coming 
pretty soon. The first blue violets in the northern woods, the mayflowers 
and the green moss capturing the gray stones under the eternal pines, and 
the clear pool full of little polyps bringing forth other little polyps which 
bring forth other little polyps which bring forth . . . 

— Nonsense. There's four feet of snow where you're going. Will be for 
the next six weeks. 

— The rare, exquisite pale northern light, the stars like pure suns watch- 
ing over the earth. The wind sighing more sweetly and with a higher pitch 
in the snow-covered trees, and then a little brook, singing with the clear 
tinkle which comes from being half-covered with ice, singing the song of 
spring at the door . . . 

— Singing the song of mud. Brooks of mud on the sidewalk, rivers of 
mud in the streets, and bottomless, gluey, smelly oceans of mud in the 
squares around the railroad stations. It's not nature that's calling you. I 
won't be taken in by that chestnut. 

He slipped his arms out of the coat and then tried it as a cape. He laid 
his hand delicately on his shirt front and said, — No, I must confess, my 
queen, that it is the sound of distant trumpets that calls me to horse. Those 
magical letters, the greatest in the language, are ringing in my ears like the 
opening bars of the Fifth Symphony . . . Da-da-da, da, F-A-M-E . . . 

— Foolish agitators mangle English, she said. 

— Ah no . . . Fif-ty dol-ldrs . . . and-my-ex-penses . . . 

He heard Lydia coming in with the food. He whipped off the hat; she 
hadn't seen it yet and he didn't want her to make him wear his stovepipe 


at the last minute. He threw the coat over the back of his chair and sat 
tapping in assumed impatience as she brought in a big plate with a porter- 
house on it and a glass of milk and set it down before him. He pushed the 
milk over to Miss Stevenson and fell to eating the steak, saying: — Milk for 
the maidens, meat for the men. 

She pushed the milk back indignantly. Lydia sat at the table, sideways 
on her chair as wives and mothers have to do, and watched him eat. She 
was sad. He was always so exuberant when he was going av/ay. It was 
awful of him to eat so heartily, with such gusto, at a time like this. He 
hadn't eaten so for months. She looked away to hide the tears that were 
beginning to cluster again in her violet eyes. She saw the map on the wall. 
She waited considerately for him to get to the bare bone and then she said, 
— What's that map for, Theodore? 

— Oh, that's so you can follow my route and be with me on my journey, 
he said, getting up and going to the map. He ran his finger over the cen- 
tral New York area, heavily laced with the black lines of railroads. — You 
can stick pins in the places where I am each night and then keep track. 

— She ought to stick pins in you, said Miss Stevenson. 

— Then she'll have to come along, won't you, Bearsie ? See, you haven't 
got a worry in the world. All I have to do is get on and off the train. 
There's a railroad wherever I go. Rings on my fingers and bells on my 
toes, and I shall have railroads wherever I goes . . . 

— Then why don't you take her with you? said Miss Stevenson. — She 
could give a better lecture than you. As any woman could outshine a man 
at talking common sense. 

— That's what I'm afraid of, he said. Then he snatched up a piece of 
bread from a dish. — Look at that bread. A woman that makes such bread 
should never straddle a platform. He swabbed the bread into the plate, 
soaking up the gravy, and then popped it into his mouth. — Ah my dear, 
he said to Lydia. — Such a lovely sacrament of bread you bring me! No 
priest could hold a candle to it. Although many would light one to it if 
they ever tasted it. . . . He shook his finger at Miss Stevenson. — But we 
must have butter too. 

— You butter her up as much as a body can stand without even leaving 
the house, it seems to me, said Miss Stevenson. 

He ignored this. — Into a long, luxurious coach here at the Worcester 
Station, there to sink into the roomy chairs by the window, ready to glide 
off on the wings of the wind . . . 

— The chairs are exactly three feet four inches, and sit two people. One 
would be plenty with your shoulders. As for gliding off, there's a chain a 


foot long between the cars and the engine and it starts and stops with a 
jerk that would snap your head off when it takes up the slack. 

— Were you ever an engineer, Hannah ? he asked sarcastically. 

— No, but my brother was. You can't tell me a thing about railroads, 
she answered. 

— Then, he continued, — we roll along to Worcester. Here we get into 
the land of the Bub family. You won't find them in the directory, but all 
the boys answer to the name. They pass up and down the cars with tooth- 
some sweets, popped corn soaked in molasses and candy. 

— They scream in your ears, said Hannah. — And then they paw over 
everything in the basket with filthy hands. They never wash, of course, and 
offer you an unwrapped sandwich with some dried beef in it for an astro- 
nomical price. 

— Then, Bear, dear, there's a nice hot stove glowing in the car, sending 
out waves of heat to drowse in . . . 

— With a lot of rough men sitting around it, spitting tobacco juice all 
over it and letting it heat up their rum-soaked coats so that the air reeks of 
stale sweat and alcohol and you go to open a window because you have a 
splitting headache and you roast on one side and freeze on the other. 

He stabbed his finger on the map. — Now we get to the Hudson River 

— I know that line well, said Miss Stevenson. — The rails are laid on 
granite sleepers and the din from the wheels is indescribable. Then the 
train goes through the deep granite cuts on the roadway and the drunken 
men start parading through the cars, slamming the doors. She put her 
hands over her ears and groaned. — What are you going to Troy for ? I 
thought you were going west through Albany ? 

He gave a dry cough of embarrassment. — My first stop is at Rouse's 

She sniffed loudly with disgust. — Rouse's Point! Two hundred and 
eighty miles off if it's an inch, and the worst tavern in the United States. 
The crockery there sticks to your hand. I had some fish there once and it 
was as cold as if it had come from the lake. That's all I ever could get there, 
cold fish. Then I suppose you're going to Malone and Potsdam. The tem- 
perature never gets above twenty below this time of the year up there. 

What a woman, Parker thought, turning away from the map. Too sharp, 
too acid, in spite of her fine mind. She was the kind of woman that people 
thought he should have married. Some didn't think Lydia was his intel- 
lectual equal. No, she wasn't, thank God. Usually he liked the workings of 
a female mind, the adroitness and subtlety, but Miss Stevenson was like a 


chariot charge, the chariots with the knives in wings stretching out from 
their hubs. But he knew how to get her out of the room and have a mo- 
ment or two alone with Lydia. 

— Hannah, have you seen anything of that letter I had to the hotel- 
keepers ? If you don't have a letter for them they'll roast you up on the top 
floor like crows in a tree. 

— It's in your pocket, Hannah said. 

— Did I ever tell you about the servant girl on the New York boat going 
up the Hudson for a job? She lost her reference and she went to the Cap- 
tain about it. He obliged by writing her a new one. Miss Flanagan, he 
wrote, had a good character when she got on the boat but she lost it in her 
cabin going up. 

— Theodore! exclaimed Lydia in a shocked tone. Miss Stevenson got up 
abruptly and began to stack the dishes. 

— This letter got me into a bridal suite one time, he said wickedly. 
— There was a huge bed standing plumb in the middle of the floor, all 
draped in white, and with flaring gas jets on all four posts. Why, I shall 
never know. 

Miss Stevenson walked out into the kitchen with the dirty dishes. Her 
straight back was shrieking disapproval. She came back and sat down 
again, however. 

Parker turned to the map again. — I must cover northern and central 
New York and tell everybody to go with the new party and make friends 
for Mr. Seward. Then I've got to go into the West where it began, and 
make enemies for Judge Douglas. He's acting mighty strange. I think he 
might try to climb on our bandwagon, now that he's done all the damage 
with his Nebraska Bill. You see how thick the railroads are in here? That's 
where capital and labor are. He drew his fingers over New York, Penn- 
sylvania and Illinois. — That's communication. That's the watershed for 
the tide that's going to rise and wash off our wicked slate. I'll have plenty 
of time to read between jumps. I'm going to take my extra carpetbag 
loaded with books . . . Campbell's Justices, Rushworth and Hume. Did 
you pack them, Hannah? 

— Yes, she answered. 

— Look at those railroads, he exclaimed again. — Great clumps of them 
in the North and hardly any in the South. They look like Mrs. Tebbit's 
varicose veins. 

Miss Stevenson rose indignantly and went to the hall doorway, ready to 
go up after his bag. — I've never seen Mrs. Tebbit's varicose veins. 

— Now, I'm her minister, said Parker. — She's not supposed to keep 


anything from me. And I'm going to find a man for the country but not 
for Hannah. She's too good for them. 

This time when he looked around she was really gone. He clasped Lydia 
to him. She was beginning to get a little weepy again. — It won't be long 
this time, dear, and I think it will do me a world of good. I've got to get 
away from the trial for a bit. I suppose some will call it a flight. Maybe it is. 
Anyway, I know that two weeks' preaching always makes me feel better 
than a lifetime on an invalid's couch. 

— It's all right. I know I married a great man and I have to share him 
with the country. 

— Nonsense, he said kissing her but pleased just the same. He let go of 
her and took up his new coat. He put it on with assumed carelessness 
watching her out of the corner of his eye. — Got a new coat. I gave my 
other good one to Doctor Howe for one of his boys, you know. I thought 
this one would be warm. 

Lydia rubbed the collar gently. — It's beautiful. I love the collar. It's so 
different from the plain black things you always wear. 

— Well, it's warm, he said in a deprecating tone. He suddenly dove 
under the chair and came up with the hat. He set it gingerly on his head, 
looking at her anxiously. — Well? he said. 

— Why you look handsome, Theodore. You look like an ambassador, so 

He kissed her again and the going-away silence fell between them. You 
have no words for me and I have none for you, he thought. There never 
were many between us and that is good. I have so many words for other 
people and they for me. Between us be the truth of love and that's enough. 
Least said, soonest mended; least said, greatest love. 

But he had to say something. He didn't want to have Miss Stevenson 
catch them looking at each other like this. If Miss Stevenson said a word or 
two about it he might have to stay. Miss Stevenson was always right. But 
she didn't always know it, praise be. 

— Do you have to talk all those books? said Lydia, breaking the silence. 
— They're so heavy. 

— Don't worry. They won't be heavy coming back. There'll be nothing 
left of them but the covers and endpapers. I'll gut them like mackerel and 
swallow the spawn. 

— Yes, dear, said Lydia. 

— Little travel makes homely minds, he said after a pause. 

— I guess it doesn't make homely wives though, said Lydia sadly. — Men 
with pretty wives stay home more. 


— Now Bear, you are too pretty. Whenever anybody asks me if I love 
my wife I always say, See her and guess. 

Miss Stevenson, who had been looking out of the window on the upper 
landing for the hack, came downstairs with the heavy bags just as the cab- 
man knocked at the door. She opened it and the man came in. He watched 
Parker coming toward him. — Is yez the gentleman that wants the kadge? 
he asked. 

— Is yez the gentleman that wants to drive me ? Parker answered. The 
man laughed. It wasn't said in a superior way but in a friendly one. Parker 
kissed Lydia warmly and Miss Stevenson the same and got into the hack 
and went away to the station, not looking back at the slowly closing door. 

At the New York depot he looked anxiously around for his old friend 
George Ripley, now working for the Tribune, who made a kind of ritual 
out of meeting him whenever he passed through New York. For a full 
fifteen minutes he stood alone watching the travelers and greeters drain 
of? the platform and leave him, unleavened and sad. He lifted his heavy 
bags and set out for the Hudson Station but then he saw George, stout 
now, white-haired and bearded but still walking loose-jointedly as if he 
never meant to be fitted into his envelope of fat and slid around inside of 
it with young-awkward bones. 

With one hand George took the heavier bag and with the other he held 
out a letter with considerable scribbling on its face. — Look at this, said 
George indignantly, — it's a wonder I could have got here at all. It just 
came to my hands after an extended tour. It's directed to New Yor\ Trib- 
une, G. Ripley, New York. Since the name is placed where the town should 
be it went to Ripley Post Office of! somewhere in the interior. Then it came 
back to the paper and was mixed up with the business letters. 

— How did I know they had gone and named a town for you, George ? 

— What's in here? George lifted the bag waist-high with a groan. 
— Did you bring the documents? 

— It's full of lawbooks. What documents did you want? 

George clucked his tongue in disgust. — I thought so. I wrote you way 
back in the dog days about this O'Leary chap. 

— I remember the name, George, but the face escapes me. 

— He's an enterprising young quacksalver who is getting up some lec- 
tures on the great men of the country, showing them at full length cor- 
porally in the magic lantern. 

— I vaguely recall it. He wants to shine naughty deeds in a good world. 


— Vaguely! He said you referred him to me for a sketch of the terrible 
Boston Iconoclast, which for the promise of good and sufficient current 
money I have consented to do. Of course there must be plenty of humbug- 
gery in the piece or he would not appreciate it. You were to send some 
data . . . 

— I have to get that train in an hour. Where shall we eat? 

— At the oyster house around the corner. Did you hear the one about 
the Hibernian who was supposed to deliver some trunks to a man at the 
Astor House and told the police he had been to every oyster house in New 
York and could not find the owner ? 

— Fve got one worse than that. Why is a rotten potato like a beehive ? 

— Give up. 

— Because one is a specked-tator and the other is a bee-holder. 
Ripley laughed heartily. He always did at these things and that had been 

the bond between them for thirty years. Whenever they met they fell to 
making puns and then to ridiculing one another and themselves until 
Parker could let the self-ridicule slip into self-pity and the revealing of 
doubts he could never utter to anyone else, knowing that George would 
pretend not to take him seriously. And then, showing his hidden wounds 
like a brawler to his crony, he could derive from the exaggerations of the 
jocular notice taken, some small and inverted sympathy compromising 
neither one of them. 

In the restaurant Parker watched George with amusement as he fished 
the oysters from the stew, as a mark of his deep respect for all forms of life, 
and laid them tenderly on an empty plate. To this he added a few quano- 
like scraps of salt pork and said with unwitting symbolism, — I had in- 
tended to come to Boston and to sit under the droppings of your sanctuary 
some Sunday. Or would you rather have me on a Saturday? I'd like to 
catch you in the act of your weekly snake-killing. Perhaps that would be 
better. Sunday you might ask me to lead in prayer. Anyway, let me have 
the documents and I might stay around for any late news you may have 
received from the spirit world. 

— You used to lead me in prayer, George, said Parker, looking at him 
censoriously, and half in earnest about it. — This is nice talk from the 
former pastor of the Purchase Street Congregational, the leading scholar 
of the Unitarian Association, ex-editor of the Christian Register! You've 
become a worse heretic than I am. At least I'm trying to keep the old ark 
moving with a new engine, but you've jumped ship entirely. 

George answered with a set smile but his eyes were fixed in the distance 
to anchor his words with conviction. — Let every man be the founder of 


his own religion. I have abandoned the old fetish you still cling to. Every- 
thing we ascribe to God lies within the soul of man; I will not longer 
quarrel with theology. Bring man to self-consciousness and the age will 
turn away from all of its strife. In this I have parted with you, old friend, 
and feel that you deviate from the path of true progress. You still put your 
ethical obligations on the sanction of a personal God. How can we recon- 
cile personality with infinity ? To me even the reasonings of natural theol- 
ogy are broken cisterns which hold no water. 

He picked up some chunks of hardtack and broke them slowly into his 
purified chowder, performing by this vegetable saturation a perfect act of 

Parker watched him for a moment calmly spooning up his tasteless gruel. 
He pushed the salt toward him. George shook his head and pushed it back. 

— But where is the savor to your life, George ? What have you to hope 
for, or better still, to fight for? 

— For the holy trinity . . . the good, the true, the beautiful. That's why 
I want your picture, dear Theodore, Great Champion of Truth. Horrid 
Man-eater and Baiter of Innocent Theologs. What's the matter? Have you 
no desire to figure in the great Mr. O'Leary's Magic Lantern Show? Or do 
you think it suicidal to be an accessory before the fact to taking your life? 
Don't worry. I'll do you justice. Or is that what you're afraid of? 

— I'm a busy man, George, getting ready for a year or more in prison. 
I hardly think Mr. O'Leary would want to take up that pen. 

George was startled for a moment and laid down his spoon. — Let's be 
serious . . . 

— Serious ? Don't you read your own paper, George ? I'm under indict- 
ment and out on bail. My trial comes at the end of next month. 

— I had no idea that the legal process against you would assume such an 
aspect. How can they find any support in public opinion ? 

— Public opinion doesn't hold up very long against private determina- 

George, unaccountably, picked up his spoon and chuckled. — They'll 
catch a Tartar if they get you in the State Penitentiary. There'll be a line 
of visitors from the gate to Bunker Hill. For your own sake I should not 
regret it if they did their worst. I can see that neither your sleep, your diges- 
tion nor your inner serenity will suffer from the anticipation . . . and as 
far as O'Leary is concerned, it will form as bright a page as any in your 

At the end of this he took a great sup from the spoon and smacked his 
lips, and Parker thought, What a monster I have made in my own image 


when my clear old friend sits opposite me in my trouble and eats his hearty 
gruel without sympathy, thinking that I am all armor, all combative- 
ness . . . that I seek out trouble and take it as a reward. And now his 
own dish had lost its savor and he pushed it aside. He wondered if he could 
evoke pain from George on his account, get behind the heartless love and 
admiration, shock him, bring him weeping to his feet, put the salt of tears 
in his mouth. 

— It was about this time twenty years ago, George, that you preached 
at my ordination in the little church in West Roxbury. You called your 
sermon the Right Hand of Fellowship. We may not see another anniver- 
sary. This thing is not just another Boston bagatelle. Says Ben Hallett, the 
United States District Attorney, He's a murderer. . . . — Same's if he 
stuck the knife in Batchelder, says Justice Curtis of the United States Su- 
preme Court, the hanging judge for the trial. 

Instead of being shocked, George shook his head with petty annoyance. 

— Will you oblige me, reverend and dear sir, by discontinuing the use of 
that vile expression, says Ben, says Curtis, says God? Where in hell did 
you pick up such a barbarianism? You disgrace me, your old teacher and 
pastor, every time you use it. 

Parker laughed mechanically and they left the place and went to the 
railroad station. They were quiet now. Parker had hit George but he 
didn't know it. They swapped a few more jokes and puns until Parker 
stood by the steps of his train. 

Suddenly George seized him by the arm and said with great intensity: 

— Now here's what you must do. You must get an article prepared in 
your defense to circulate nationally. Don't you write it. Get Hildreth or 
someone like that. It must be moderate and judicial in tone and conclusive 
in its statements. We will give it the widest publicity in the Tribune. 
I hope you have taken notice that we always bring the latest Parkerism 
before the public, and that no other paper has that news. 

— Thank you, George, but I doubt . . . 

— Do so, you fool, or I'll go right on with this other thing, showing 
you as you really are. You don't frighten me. People think you are made 
of cast iron and gall and you have no right to quarrel with your fame, or 
ill-fame in this respect. You not only take things by the throat but you 
seem to revel in their spasms of agony. There has been too much of this. 

— I've got to go, George. 

— Wait. I know this has been the root of your great success and like 
the others I have rejoiced because you have shown the world a true man 
in the midst of these dwarfs, mountebanks, satyrs and monkeys. If it had 


not been for you I would have known no other kind of world. It was 
that visit to your house years ago which was the causal and immediate 
antecedent to my adventure at Brook Farm. You know when the salt 
went out of my life. Now this is the one way in which I can pay 
you back. You are a prisoner of your reputation. Why don't you let 
people know you as you are? Show your weaknesses. Otherwise you 
will never be saved, they will send you happily to the arena, friends as 
well as enemies, as long as they think you rejoice in the bray of trumpets 
and the smell of blood. 

The engine bell clanged. The train began to shiver, taking up the 
slack of its chains. Parker heaved his bags to the top of the steps. — I 
can't change. I'd melt away if I did. I love too much to be loved. Let 
people go on putting me up as a dreadful John Knox if they think it 
compliments me. Personally I think he was another Bluebeard converted 
to Calvinism who damned better men than himself. I have to officiate 
as an agitator, a calumniator and gladiator, there is no one else. I thank 
you for telling me there is a better side to me, but don't tell them I 
shed tears. Even though there are some in my eyes now. Good-by, dear 

He climbed up the steps of the train and walked into the coach and 
took a seat on the side away from where his old friend was standing. 
The car passed by George with empty eyes. 

He was all right, fine, until he got to Waukegan. That was the far 
point of his traveling and a long, long way from home. There his head- 
aches began again and his nightmares and deadening sense of failure and 

There was a good deal of homesickness mixed up in it too. It was a 
Sunday meeting . . . here ... in a big hall with nearly a thousand peo- 
ple. When he reached for the hymnbook it was the same as the one used 
in the Music Hall, and this was like taking an old friend by the hand 
in a distant place. 

He was invited out for Sunday dinner at a house nearby but he de- 
clined. He wanted to get back to the tavern and stand awhile with a little 
captive bear chained outside. He was very tired and sick of talk. He felt 
the need of contemplation. He realized that he hadn't sat silently with- 
out scheming, without learning, without propagandizing or making inner 
judgments on people and things, for years now. He stood looking at 
the bear, trying to arrest all movement in his mind. But he could not. 
Finally he made a note that the bear always revolved around his post 
in the direction of the sun, and went in to dinner. There was a tough 


steak, sour bread, and potatoes swimming in fat. He felt of the bed- 
sheets when he got to his room. They were damp and cold. 

There had been a curious man waiting for him at the end of his sermon. 
He was hearty and rough-looking with a great shaggy coat on of wolf- 
skins all untidy at the edges and a hat sewed together in a cone and a 
conelike patchy beard at the other end, a curious parti-colored beard with 
streaks of red, gray and yellowish hair mixed up in it. The man's gloves 
were wet as he pulled them on and they had a nasty, choking smell to 
them. Parker looked at him with enjoyment. This was the type of 
aboriginal Yankee he had come to see, and it was heartwarming to find 
one listening to him. But when the aborigine began to talk he betrayed 
an unmistakable Boston accent, for he was merely one of those who 
delight in living in far places and who immediately take on a violent 
garb and become more outlandish than the natives they think to uplift 
by living among them. 

He lived in Minnesota, he said, in a fort still used to keep ofif the wild 
Indians. He had brought two sermons from Boston and had read them 
for several Sundays to his neighbors in the outpost. Now they wanted 
more and he had come all this way in the snow to ask for some. His 
talk was as formal as his garments were wild. 

— Now sir, if you will send me such of your sermons as in your judg- 
ment will suit a frontiersman's mind best, I will settle the bill whenever 
it is presented. 

— No bill, sir, Parker replied. — You are welcome to all I have at 
home and there are others that you can get by sending to my friends 
Little and Brown in Boston. But tell me, sir, isn't there enough in my 
theology for you to teach it yourself without my actual words? Is there 
no seed-stuflf in them so that you can let ten or more sermons grow in 
a row from the one or two you have already? 

— I'm afraid not, sir, said the man, throwing back his head for a laugh. 
— It isn't what you say, it's how you say it. 

A brutal criticism, meant as a compliment, of course, but not cheering 
to a man who is reaching the point where he might have to live with 
his mouth closed and wants something, a bit of his spirit, to be carried on. 

Intimation of mortality, he thought as he drew oflf his boots in the chilly 
room. Was he to leave no one behind him? Of course, there were the 
Higginsons, the Johnsons and the Conways back home, but they had 
taken his learning for wisdom, his invectives for his invocations and 
grafted his flower and cut of? the root. Was there anywhere a simple 
man, a rural man, far away from colleges and the plethora of tran- 


scendentalists, who reflected Parker entirely, a young man now who 
might live into the new century ? 

There was the boy who had written two years ago after reading his 
"Discourse of Religion." The boy had lost his arm in an accident and 
had turned to reading in his crippled state. He had written of acrid dis- 
putes with church members and ministers in his village and a hue-and-cry 
sprouted that he was an infidel. Now the town was raised against him and 
no one would give him work because of it. Even his brothers and sisters 
had soured on him and wanted to turn him out of the home. He wanted 
to come to Boston and get employment. — Where I may clasp you by 
the hand, listen to your noble words and take example from your manly 

Parker had dodged the issue the easy way, telling him to stay where 
he was and live down his bad name with good deeds and thus conquer 
at the end. It was simple to say and a relief from a bother . . . but cruel, 
cruel. It was true that it was easier to live in the West, and in Boston 
the boy could have ended up in the back alleys and stews of Ann Street. 
But this boy had made it hard for himself to live anywhere with his 
tender idealism, telling his parents that Parker had waked him from a 
bad dream and inspired him to reject their arguments, that his talents 
and eloquence could fill his pockets with gold. 

Parker could see the letter now in his mind's eye with the burning 
pathetic words. . . . 

Of times as I have been reading your words, my heart has gone 

towards you and I have longed with an irresistible longing to be 

near you. And since I have been writing, I have wished I could be 

in the place of this letter and that you could look into my eyes and 

read me as you can this letter. But if that cannot be now, let me hear 

from you often. Write brave words to me, and I will endeavor to 

live down opposition. _ _ T7 

1 Dan Wilcox 

He sat in the crude chair, shoe in hand, hating himself. He was a flirt, 
an ethical flirt, a spiritual coquette, leading people on and then telling 
them to stay away and fight it out somewhere else. Be satisfied with my 
letters and my words but touch me not. 

And then there was Herndon, the lawyer from Springfield. He had 
written too, not sincerely and pathetically like young Wilcox but with a 
real Western bounce and brag . . . 

You are my ideal, sir; strong, direct, energetic and charitable. 


What was the matter with Herndon for a disciple? He was young, well- 
read, a lawyer and in politics, had a good library and a position of im- 
portance in his town and even around the state. He too wanted to come 
to Boston but not in a languishing way . . . 

I want to see the places of revolutionary memory and the three 
living institutions of Boston, Garrison, Parker and Phillips, so that 
when I want to speak of things, I can talk knowingly and when 
such men as you are said to be harmful to the Republican Party, I 
can say to the vile slanderers, you lie. I have seen these men and 
taken them by the hand and I know it is not so. 

He would not be a burden, Parker thought, and then flinched at the 
unhappy, self-scornful implication. He drew on his shoes again. He de- 
cided to take up an invitation he had received a month ago. He would 
send a telegraph to Herndon in Springfield and speak there on his way 
home. It would cost him a day or two perhaps but he could make it up 
by sleeping on the train instead of a bed. He would go down Peoria way, 
and he would write to the boy without an arm and see him and perhaps 
fit him into his life somehow or turn him over to Herndon if it didn't 
seem wise to take him out of the rising West into the falling East. After 
all, they were neighbors there in Illinois. 

It was an ill-omened trip. There was no train connection whatsoever 
between Chicago and Springfield. The only railroad from Springfield 
ended abruptly at Pekin some miles to the north and it stood as naked 
and inaccessible as a sandbar in a river. He had to go by stage to the 
engagement. The stage was too crowded to read or sleep in. When he 
got to the terminal, there was no one to meet him. He asked for Herndon 
of some loafers at the stage stop and they set up raucous laughter at the 

— Don't see much of Billy since he got to be the Mayor. Keeps outa 
sight just a mite. Better he had too, takin' liquor out of the town first 
thing the way he did. Never git elected again. Not even dog-catcher. 

The tavern was typical. The man who greeted him at the hall just 
before his lecture was full of false notes on cultural themes, had thick 
spectacles, a long nose and eyes divided by a pin's breadth. He, too, 
was rather bitter about Herndon, hadn't seen him all day and resented 
having the whole affair put on him to manage. 

The crowd was small and quiet and Parker searched in vain over the 
torpid people sitting listlessly on the dusty chairs for the man without 
an arm. 


At the end, standing in the lobby, watching the lights put out 
with insulting speed, he was approached belligerently by the man in 
charge and given four or five dollars and a handful of silver, with the 
remark that it was the best they could do and it was hoped to be a satis- 
factory conclusion to the affair. — A fiasco, said the man, — if I ever saw 

Parker explained that he usually got fifty dollars a night and expenses. 

Mr. Post flew into a rage. — It's always been understood that enter- 
tainers are to appear for the money taken in and pay for their own rooms. 
You get what's coming to you and if there's no more, it's your own 
fault. We don't charge a thing for the use of the hall. I don't see why 
we always have to have these misunderstandings with the ministers that 
come here. The minstrel shows and all the other entertainments make 
out very well. I had the same trouble with Mr. Beecher when he was 
here and I don't intend to go through it again. It isn't worth it. 

The man stood there like an indignant rabbit, holding his chubby arms 
doubled back against his chest and his hat clasped there in his puffy 
hands. Parker dropped the silver he had into the hat and walked away 
without a word. At the door, a man stepped out of the shadows, and 
said, — Mr. Parker. 

Parker looked quickly at his arms. There were two. One was stretched 
out in greeting. The handshake was hearty, shaky and feverish. He saw 
a man of five foot nine, in his middle thirties,